Developing Boys' Vocabulary

There is widespread agreement that extending one’s vocabulary of the keys to reading. Not only is it a valuable predictor of reading success in the early years, but it continues to impact achievement levels well into secondary school.

Vocabulary refers to the words students need to know to understand what they hear and read, and to communicate. Research undertaken by E.D Hirsch and others suggests that the breadth of a student’s vocabulary is one of the most important factors in increasing reading and oral comprehension. Only when we know the meaning of the words, can we make sense of the content.

With the knowledge that the Explicit Teaching of vocabulary has a powerful impact on literacy success, we incorporate this into our everyday routine. Our Daily Writing Warm Up (DWWU) provides an ideal opportunity to enhance the boys’ vocabulary. To provide some context, the vocabulary focus words for this week’s ‘technology’ themed Year One DWWU are: technical; distracting; efficient; and advanced.

A word needs multiple encounters before it is really known. Therefore, we incorporate oral and written activities including multiple opportunities for boys to: explore the word’s meaning; encounter the word in context; and use the words orally and in written form.

A rich vocabulary supports learning about the world and provides greater scope to express ideas. It is an essential ingredient in enhancing the literacy development of our boys.

Here’s some ideas to assist your son develop his vocabulary:

  • Encourage learning new words during conversations at home; utilise them repeatedly to assist in embedding them in your son’s long-term memory.
  • Read with and to your son. The more you read, the more vocabulary they will hear and develop.
  • Notice new words. Provide definitions; give examples of context.
  • Discuss your son’s weekly Daily Writing Warm Up vocabulary words each week.
  • Choose a new ‘word of the day’ and attempt to use it in different contexts as many times as possible.

Ben Gates