Developing Language and Vocabulary Knowledge

Recent research indicates that once pupils have been taught a relatively small number of critical phonic skills their decoding is improved by developing their language skills and vocabulary knowledge rather than teaching further phonic skills.

Studies show that:

  • • children’s knowledge of word meanings is a predictor of later word reading skills and
  • • vocabulary knowledge is a longitudinal predictor of irregular word reading.

Recent research on a concept known as ‘set for variability’ refers to pupils’ capacity to exploit their vocabulary knowledge of a word that has been mispronounced to provide the correct pronunciation of that word. For children to develop these skills, hearing stories is not enough: they have to read the books themselves in part or in their entirety. That way, they can actively develop their language skills and vocabulary knowledge – including the capacity to correct mispronunciations in their reading.