5 ways to bring vocabulary into every English lesson

Closing the word gap

Last year we surveyed over 1,300 primary and secondary teachers in order to better understand the word gap as experienced within schools and you can read the full report here. As a result of this research, we have partnered with Teachit to develop a downloadable pack of resources and initiatives that can be immediately used in the classroom. Below are Annabel Wall’s top suggestions for bringing vocabulary into every lesson.

Using Word Banks: chunk it up!

In order not to overwhelm students with a long list of vocabulary, a positive way to start is to identify the important vocabulary they should know and then split this up into clear groups. By focusing on these manageable groups, students can begin to develop confidence in their understanding and usage.

There are a number of ways in which you could organise these word banks and our Word Gap pack offers a few suggestions. You could also download our free posters with key vocabulary for SPaG.

Become language detectives

To help students develop their vocabulary independently, it’s important that they begin to look out for and identify the connections and relationships between key terms. In other words they need to become language detectives! Lessons and activities based around etymology and morphology mean students will be better equipped to approach unfamiliar words in unseen texts and the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins has a number of free resources to help.

Using talk to widen vocabulary

Hearing an unfamiliar word aloud, whether it’s from Shakespeare, the 19th-century or a modern comic, can help to start the process of decoding. Rebecca Geoghegan explores the importance of talking and listening in the classroom in her blog Talking it through, talking it out, talking about it and learning to really listen.  


Avoiding common mistakes and misunderstandings

Everyone makes mistakes (cliched but true!) The quicker students accept that mistakes and misunderstandings are part of the process of learning new words, the quicker they can move towards understanding why they’ve made the mistakes to avoid them in the future.

Understanding vocabulary for exams/assessments

A lot of hard work revising and then during an exam could be wasted if students have not been able to understand what the question is asking them to do. By familiarising them with the language of the exams and the skills associated with each question, removes some of the barriers to exam success.

This poster of GCSE Language Assessment Objectives and GCSE literary terms is an easy visual reminder while they’re in the classroom.

Download the free English pack here. You will also find packs for Maths, Science, History and Geography as well as advisory resources for developing a whole school approach because we all know it’s a team effort!

One thought on “5 ways to bring vocabulary into every English lesson

  1. I like the point about encouraging students to become ‘language detectives’. A good example is the root TELE. Once they learn it means ‘far’, all these words such as telescope and telegram somehow seem to make more sense. I’ve definitely had success using this method with intermediate and upper intermediate learners.

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