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Why does closing the word gap matter?

Language opens doors. It unlocks the world of reading and the imagination, the excitement of writing, the capacity to explore new subjects and releases our potential to learn and grow as an individual.


At St. Mary's we understand that language underpins progress, impacts on attainment throughout primary and secondary years, affects self-esteem and behaviour and plays a huge role in a child's future life chances. Without enough language – a word gap – a child is seriously limited in their enjoyment of school and success beyond.


In school we immerse the children in language. Language is the tool that gives us the ability to understand and express complex knowledge. To ensure that all pupils access this curriculum we must provide them with a vocabulary-rich understanding.


For children to understand a text and ensure that they comprehend what they have read they must know the meaning of 95% of the words in a text.


Our pupils are faced with challenging texts on a daily basis and a good deal of the reading in our classrooms will include vocabulary that is unfamiliar and difficult. 


The words we use can be organised in to three tiers:

 We use Tier 1 words every day in the classroom.


Tier 3 words are the technical vocabulary we use in our curriculum subjects


However, the Tier 2 words need to be taught explicitly so that our children can use them to make sense of the Technical Tier 3 Vocabulary.


Strategies that we use in school include:-

  • Make it visual
  • Explore roots and affixes
  • Build semantic relationships