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Corby Glen Community Primary School

Oracy and vocabulary


(reference from Vocabulary - Oxford Owl for Home)

The more words your child knows, the easier they will find it to understand ideas and tasks, join in with conversations, write well and express themselves accurately. When children have a very small vocabulary it is hard for them to access schoolwork; we can call this a ‘word gap’. A word gap can be a real problem when children go up to secondary school.

There are many ways you can help your child expand their vocabulary:


1. Talk, talk, talk – and listen

One of the best ways to help your child increase their vocabulary is to talk to them. Talk over dinner, talk when you are out and about, talk as you read a book.

Use interesting words as you talk, such as ‘That dress is exquisite’, ‘I know you’re exhausted, but try and persevere’ and so on. Get your child to respond in full sentences, using some of the words you’ve used.


2. Encourage reading

The more you child reads, the more words they read.

If they are reading fiction, they might be reading interesting descriptions. If they are reading non-fiction, they will be reading key topic words. If your child reads a wide range of different types of books, they will come across a wide range of vocabulary.

Make sure they have access to an age-appropriate dictionary.


 3. Read to your child

Read to your child for as long as they will let you. As you read fiction, ask questions around any unusual words: Is Charlie Bucket selfish? Could we say he is unselfish?

As you read non-fiction, discuss any key topic words: Can you remember what a predator is?


4. Talk about homework

As you support your child with their homework, check for understanding of any words you come across. Older children can often be reluctant to share homework tasks, but, if possible, find out what they are doing and, again, check for understanding.

Try using any new vocabulary in other contexts to reinforce meaning.


5. Swallow the dictionary

It’s really helpful if your child has access to a dictionary and a thesaurus at the right level for them, written in language they can understand. A dictionary and thesaurus at home and at school are vital tools in developing and enriching children’s language as well as helping to improve their spelling.

To choose the best dictionary, or thesaurus, for your child, why not use our simple dictionary selector or browse our range of Oxford children’s dictionaries.