Vocabulary for every learner

To access learning, to build relationships and to develop emotional understanding, children need to have words. Now, perhaps more than ever there is an awareness that for children to reach their potential, they need a well-developed vocabulary. For over 10 years the Word Aware approach has been helping teachers to develop their students’ vocabulary, and we are now excited to announce a series of improvements.
There are now 3 Word Aware books. Imaginatively titled Word Aware 1, Word Aware 2 and Word Aware 3. These are designed to form a complete package to support primary schools to support all word learners from ages 3 to 11 years.

Word Aware 1: ages 5 to 11 years.
2nd edition is out in September 2021.
Based on the same principles as the first edition, the second edition focuses more directly on making implementation as easy as possible. We have worked with many schools since the first edition was published and so have been able to analyse what works best. If the first edition was an explosion of ideas, then the second edition is a more guide in how to develop practice across the school. It is based upon three steps:
1. Get excited about words: provide a rich vocabulary environment and also show your enjoyment of words
2. Direct teaching of words: in every subject teach the most important words so that students can understand and express themselves meaningfully
3. Independent word learning strategies: teach children to be independent word learners, so learning opportunities are maximised.
The book is packed full of photocopiable and downloadable resources and an implementation plan which make it even easier to put into practice.
To read more and buy the book go to :

Order Word Aware 1

Word Aware 2: ages 3 to 5 years
Published in 2017 but remains an incredibly useful resource.
Starting children on the right track is crucial for vocabulary development. Our Early Years book applies the Word Aware principles to this younger age group, building on good practice, but adding fresh and fun ideas. Central to Early Years are early verbal concepts. These are important words such as ‘through, early and different’ which are fundamental to children’s understanding of the world and underpin scientific and mathematical thinking.

These concepts are taught using the highly engaging and effective ‘Concept Cat.’ Children love Concept Cat because it is fun, and teachers love Concept Cat because it works. To make Concept Cat even more impactful there are short videos available from Lift Lessons, which are really worth a look.
To watch the Concept Cat videos go to:
example Concept Cat video on our Word Aware pages.
Click on the red button to access the Lift Lessons website
Lift Lessons
To read more and buy the book go to :

Order Word Aware 2

Word Aware 3: small groups for ages 6 to 11
New book out in October 2021.
The Word Aware whole school approach is designed to be inclusive and is accessible for a wide range of word learners. Some children also need a little bit extra support. That might come in the form of pre-teaching and smaller steps for teaching word learning skills.
Standalone vocabulary interventions outside of the classroom that are not connected to the curriculum are not likely to work. We know because it is what we used to do. Much better is to take a curriculum-based approach and teach the words that children need to access learning, but also teach them the skills they need to learn independently.
In very clear steps Word Aware 3 outlines how to develop a curriculum-based approach, detailing each staff member’s role and how they can work together. It also provides the key tools, such as the small group structure and activities, and downloadable resources such as a video training presentation recorded by the authors.
To read more and buy the book go to :

Order Word Aware 3

The three Word Aware books work together as one system supporting typically developing and higher needs word learners from ages 3 to 11.

Q I am a class teacher in primary/elementary school, which book is the best one for me?
A Word Aware 1 is the best place to start for you, even if you are mainly concerned about a small group of children. Focus on getting vocabulary teaching and learning right in the classroom and this will support most learners. If they need extra support, then add in Word Aware 3 later.

Q I am a Speech and Language Therapist working across different schools. I have been struggling to get schools to run vocabulary interventions. Where should I start?
A This is a tough one. Ideally I would start with Word Aware 1 which is about whole school vocabulary development. Target senior leaders and get them on board. Vocabulary impacts on so many aspects of learning for lots of children. It does require whole school change, and as much as staff understand the need not all schools are in the right place.
The second option is to start with individual class teachers and get Word Aware running in some classes (you’ll need Word Aware 1 for this). Then you can get the extra support as outlined in Word Aware 3 for children on your caseload. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but once it is up an running it will be a lot less work.

Q There is lots of change going on in my school at the moment, but we have students with vocabulary learning needs who just cannot wait for vocabulary to come to the top of the school development plan. What should we do?
A Start with Word Aware 3 and set up intervention groups for the high priority children. Be aware that it does require some involvement of class teachers (e.g.: select words to teach). A training video presentation comes with the Word Aware 3 book.
Keep raising the issue of vocabulary for the whole school. Show your senior leaders Word Aware 1 so they can see how straightforward it is.

Q Does the school-run small group intervention in Word Aware 3 replace Speech and Language Therapy/Pathology?
A Most definitely not. It is designed to supplement what SaLT/SLP can offer. Schools will be able to support a wider range of children than they would refer. The approach can also be tailored by SaLT/SLP to meet the needs of children with more significant vocabulary learning needs. It could be used as the basis of intervention for an individual.

Q I already have Word Aware, 1st edition. Is it worth me buying the second edition of Word Aware 1?
A Biased opinion, but we say yes! We have learnt so much over the past years, particularly about implementation. The second edition is just so much easier to implement. There are lots of resources that can be printed out and used immediately, as well as great new resources such as 180 ‘word of the week’ posters and word games for families. It will save you lots of time and be effective.

Q Is there a Word Aware book for secondary/high school?
This must be one of our most frequent of all FAQs. We are sorry there isn’t a specific Word Aware book for secondary. Maybe one day. In the meantime we do know that lots of practitioners have adapted Word Aware. There is also Vicky Joffe’s Vocabulary Enrichment Programme (2011) that is suitable for small groups.

Further information
View our Word Aware pages
Keep an eye on the training we offer as well
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