Word Aware



Vocabulary is important the world over. In the US, the Common Core has brought vocabulary to the fore whilst in England the curriculum specifically highlights the importance of vocabulary. Vocabulary is important from Early Years right through to secondary / high schooling as a result of the vast explosion of topic specific information.

Hjetland et al (2017), in their systematic review found that spoken vocabulary predicted children’s latter reading development. Vocabulary relates to reading comprehension, but impacts equally on curriculum areas that require specific word knowledge such as mathematics and science.

Waldfogel and Washbrook, (2010) found a two year gap at aged 5 years between the wealthiest and the poorest. And as Ford-Connors and Paratore (2015) highlight ‘students who enter classrooms with a low store of vocabulary knowledge are unlikely to acquire complex knowledge through simple exposure’.

Word Aware is a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children. Focussed on whole class learning, the resource is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language, but it will extend the word learning of all students.

This approach is full of practical and inspiring ideas that can be easily applied by busy classroom practitioners to develop both spoken and written vocabulary.

Word Aware has been developed by combining up to date research with extensive classroom experience. Stephen Parsons and Anna Branagan have been using this approach and training many practitioners since 2010. The end product is an effective and time efficient method for developing the spoken and written vocabulary of all children. It has been enthusiastically received by class teachers, head teachers, curriculum coordinators, Special Needs co-coordinators, Learning Support Assistants and Speech and Language Therapists / Pathologists.

There are now three books in the Word Aware series. Word Aware 1 (2nd edition, September 2021) is for whole school vocabulary development for ages 5 to 11. Word Aware 2 (2017) is for teaching Early Years children aged 3 to 5. Word Aware 3 is for teaching vocabulary in small groups for children aged 6 to 11.