Building vocabulary

At BGS we recognise the importance of building vocabulary. The importance of a well developed vocabulary is  leading to improved confidence in communicating after school and enabling better academic success. A rich vocabulary tends to mean:

  • Students have better academic success. A strong vocabulary is important for both understanding exam questions and explaining yourself effectively. Understanding the command words in exam questions is crucial and misunderstanding what the question wants a student to do can often be the reason behind a weak answer rather than the student's actual understanding. Meanwhile exam boards often use good use of technical language as a way of discerning the top marks within grade boundaries particularly at the top end.
  • Students are more prepared for the adult world. Many students are good oral communicators and indeed over social media but the adult working world still favours a more formal language in written communication often different to everyday language. A rich vocabulary enables students to engage confidently with their first steps into the world of work.
  • Students tend to be deeper thinkers about the written word because they can access more words themselves enabling them to engage with text more easily. This is incredibly important in many subjects and a real benefit to independent work such as homework, coursework and revision.
  • Students tend to express themselves more precisely and convincingly enabling them to take an active, and sometimes, leading role in groups. Being a good communicator is extremely important in the modern world.
  • Students generally tend to be more confident, particularly in new situations.
  • Students will better understand any piece of text and remain engage. A bigger vocabulary gives students more chance to understand more of the words and stick with the reading. Furthermore, as they develop an enjoyment of learning new words they tend to try challenging themselves without fear of failing with texts above their reading age.

For these reasons we place a high importance on the development of student's vocabulary and in their education focus on vocabulary in a number of ways:

  • Key vocabulary is built in as core knowledge to all Schemes of Work
  • Vocabulary is an essential part of knowledge organisers
  • Low stakes quizzing and starter activities focusing on recall often have vocabulary checks
  • Reading comprehension ages are tested throughout KS3 (and beyond where necessary) and support put in place for those who need support to get to age appropriate level
  • We run a Vocab Bee House Competition across KS3 to reward students who develop a strong vocabulary
  • Our revision materials are laden with vocabulary support
  • We have a vocabulary web which takes key words from termly from each subject and enables students to 'get ahead' or 'go over' essential words (you can find the vocabulary web below)
  • We develop understanding of command words (you can find some example resources below)

Parents can help in this by using and explaining new vocabulary and then praising them for using new words. Word games such as Taboo, Charades, Jeopardy and even word Bingo as easy fun ways to practise new words.

Command Words Explained BGS 2020

Science command words