Language is at the heart of all we do at Wheatcroft. We are committed to closing the ‘Word Gap’ ensuring all our children have all the words they need to thrive at home, in school, and beyond. We understand that language development not only improves academic outcomes, but also improves self-esteem, behaviour, a child’s ability to make friends and their overall mental health and well-being.
Spoken language is a challenge for some children and we invest in training staff to communicate using Makaton and other software programmes so that all pupils can have their thoughts and views heard.
We believe that vocabulary must be ‘taught’ as well as ‘caught’ and as such, we spend time explicitly teaching vocabulary in a variety of ways. We also understand how vital it is that words are not just taught once but are frequently revisited in order for the word to be remembered and for stronger connections to be made between children’s ‘net’ of words. We provide children with language-rich environments – the 'caught' as well as the 'taught'. We never assume that children understand new language and check their understanding regularly. We model and extend language with children and dedicate plenty of time and opportunities for purposeful talk in everyday lessons.
Here are some of the ways that we teach and revisit vocabulary:
- Word continuums -
If freezing was at one extreme and sweltering was at the other, which words could we use to move gradually from one to the other?
- Ranking vocabulary –
Here are six words. Rank them from most effective to least effective to describe an object/person/situation.
- Vocabulary schemas –
Organising words into groups. Words to describe smell (aroma, stench, fragrance, odour.) Varying degrees of smell (faints, gentle, strong, pungent.) What can smells do? (Waft, linger, creep, drift, seep.) Are any of these words more positive or negative? Finding examples in an authentic text.
- Wonderful word books and displays –
Big books and displays where collected vocabulary can be revisited/referred to with pictures and prompts.
- Synonyms and opposites –
Colour wheels, synonyms, thesaurus work.