What are the benefits of establishing a strong vocabulary at a young age?

Jun 2012
Benefits of establishing a strong vocabulary at primary school
Developing a strong vocabulary at a young age will help set pupils up for the secondary school.

Having a good breadth of vocabulary is critical to ensuring that children can express themselves in an articulate and clear manner in both their oral and written communications.

As children move through their school life they will need to use a range of adjectives, verbs and other facets of grammar in order to achieve higher levels in their literacy work.

For example, a child who wants to make the move between a mid-level 2 (2b) and a high 2 (2a) will need to move from a 'variation in word choices, some of which is ambitious' to 'make adventurous word and language choices appropriate to the style and purpose of the text'. Children should have ideally reached this level (2b/2a) at the end of key stage one.

The Communications Trust argues that developing a strong vocabulary at a young age will help set pupils up for the demands of secondary school.

'Young people need to learn a lot of new vocabulary in secondary school – vocabulary increases at a rate of between 3,000 and 5,000 words per year,' it said.

'It's therefore important to teach and support understanding of new vocabulary. This can make a big difference to how effectively they understand and use new or technical words.'Children who have a good grasp of vocabulary may also be able to give more in-depth responses to the texts they read, contribute more easily to classroom discussions and use more precise vocabulary in their written work.

There are a number of ways that you can boost your children's vocabulary, such as those suggested by the Communications Trust:

'You can do this by linking new words to what they know already, ask them what they know about the word, help them fill in gaps of understanding, play around with how the word looks and sounds, match definitions to words and display key vocabulary with clear definitions.'