Ah, the summer holidays - a time for teachers to relax and reflect on another successful year of teaching. But if you’re an eager (and perhaps a slightly nervous) NQT, you’d be forgiven for wanting to use this time to prepare for the beginning of your teaching adventure. Well, being organised is always going to make the process smoother (as long as you still make room for rest and leisure), so let’s talk about one of the more fun, creative parts of your summer checklist: the classroom display!
It’s coming home - but what does it mean?
Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting in my living room to catch the mid-match half-time chit-chat as part of my weekly World Cup fix (can you tell I’m not a big football fan?), I often find myself at a complete loss as to what it is they’re actually talking about. Harry Kane spent that first half keeping ‘deep’, that premeditated foul should have been ‘carded’, free kick this, offside that... and can someone please tell me what on Earth a 'lob' is?
Back in December 2017, Oxford University Press conducted an online survey with teachers from the around UK. The aim of the research was to explore the nature of the ‘word gap’ that exists for primary and secondary school students. Over the course of a month, the survey received over 1,300 completed responses from 840 secondary school teachers and 473 primary school teachers. The research culminated in a report titled ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report’, which has just been released. You can read the report in full here. But for those of you who have 31 mock language papers to mark, we’ve comprised a list of our five key takeaways on ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters.’
Building a vocabulary curriculum isn’t as basic as it sounds. It’s easy to forget how mind-boggling new words can be. For the most part, the words that form our individual lexicons are so strongly embedded in us, we can use and understand them without really having to think. When we hear a word we know, we instinctively relate it to an object or concept we’ve experienced in the world. But we weren’t born with this skill. We didn’t always connect ‘happiness’ with the emotion we feel when we’re in a good mood. We had to learn to make that connection. Without learning that connection, ‘happiness’ would still be a strange sound and a row of letters. That’s why it’s so tough being a teacher of vocabulary. It’s our job to transform gobbledegook into something with a clear and specific meaning.