Words of Wisdom

Knowledge empowers you

Vocabulary aids education

Youngsters, especially teenagers, have long been known for their lack of conversational skills! But new research, published by Oxford University Press last week, has found that this can drastically affect their chances of doing well at school.

Academics questioned 1,300 teachers in Britain’s primary and secondary schools about the issue – with alarming results! Here are some of the key findings in the report:

  • 49% of Year 1 pupils have vocabularies so small that it affects their learning
  • In secondary schools it’s almost as bad – 43% of pupils in Year 7 have limited vocabularies which hinder their learning
  • The problem is getting worse. 69% of primary and 60% of secondary school teachers said the number of pupils with small vocabularies is higher than it was in previous years

The numbers are shocking – almost half of Britain’s children do not know the meaning of some common words. So, what effect does this have on their education? Well, their comprehension skills are poor, which holds them back in English, as you’d expect. But other subjects suffer too – if you find it hard to understand some of the questions in geography or history exams for example, you’ll perform much worse than your more literate colleagues. And it’s not just school work that suffers – a poor vocabulary often leads to low self-esteem and makes students much less likely to continue into further education.

Boy struggling to understand

A small vocabulary hinders children

So, what is causing this disturbing trend and, more to the point, what can be done to put things right? It seems that it’s all down to good, old-fashioned books. Language opens the door to education and reading has traditionally been how children learned new words. But, with few youngsters now reading for enjoyment, their vocabularies have shrunk as a result.

What with games consoles and social media, there’s little time for enjoying a good book nowadays. My advice, if you have children, is to schedule in some reading time every day. Get them to put down their mobile phones and pick up a good read instead. It’s a great way for them to have fun and expand their mind at the same time! And, if they moan that books are boring, get them to persist – it won’t be long before they discover worlds of adventure, excitement and wonder in the palm of their hand.

For further reading (if you’ll pardon the pun), you may find our Knowledge Bank of interest. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer questions asked by parents. Whether it’s ways to help your child at school or tips on discipline, we have a library of knowledge at your fingertips! Well worth a look, for any parent.

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