11 Simple Vocabulary Upgrades for the Classroom

High-quality teacher-student conversations have the potential to provide excellent encounters with ambitious vocabulary. In this blog, we share 11 simple changes teachers can make when having conversations with learners.


Why upgrade your vocabulary?

Unlike Tier 1 vocabulary, Tier 2 vocabulary isn’t regularly used in conversation – instead, it is often found in books and more advanced media. For learners who are well read, Tier 2 vocabulary may come naturally through repeat encounters, reinforced by conversations at home.


However, for learners who read less, the lack of Tier 2 vocabulary becomes a self-perpetuating cycle – due to limited vocabulary, struggling learners read less, so their vocabulary remains limited.


There are many strategies teachers can use to teach Tier 2 vocabulary explicitly. Many of these strategies are employed on Bedrock’s core curriculum to deepen understanding and boost vocabulary. However, one of the most effective strategies (and one that can’t be done using an edtech tool like Bedrock) is upgrading vocabulary in oral discussion.


This is a strategy that can be done at home or in the classroom. Through high-quality discussion between a learner and an adult, Tier 1 vocabulary the learner uses is replaced by Tier 2 vocabulary in the adult response. This embeds the definition of the Tier 2 word into the context of the conversation, as well as showing the learner how it is used spoken aloud, leading to a high-quality exposure of this new term.


As well as this, high-quality oral discussion can help learners think deeper about a topic they are discussing. Through asking the right questions, teachers, parents and guardians can encourage learners to think more analytically about a subject, such as making predictions. This then leads to another great opportunity for a vocabulary upgrade.


Simple Tier 2 vocabulary upgrades for your classroom

If you’re thinking of ways to start upgrading the vocabulary you use day to day, these are some great swaps to get you, and your learners, used to the presence of Tier 2 vocabulary in conversation.


  1. Submit

We can all imagine the groans from the classroom as the teacher says, “Hand in your homework.” Imagine, then, the response when you say, “Submit your homework.” They’ll probably still groan, but you won’t, knowing you’ve embedded ambitious vocabulary into conversation.


  1. Procrastinate

We’ve all been there. This is a great piece of Tier 2 vocabulary to embed into your discussions with learners because we all deeply understand the context. Unlike many Tier 2 terms, this is a word learners can directly relate to through their own experiences. This deepens the effectiveness of the context, strengthening comprehension.


  1. Perception

It’s quite ambitious, but this word is a great opportunity to expose learners to Tier 2 vocabulary. Rather than asking a learner for their thoughts on a question, ask them, “What is your perception of this?” After a few context-rich exposures, your learners will become more confident with this word.


  1. Demonstrate

This is a great opportunity for maths and science teachers to get on board with upgrading vocabulary. Rather than asking learners to show their workings, why not ask them to “demonstrate” their workings?


  1. Proficient

“Proficient” is an excellent word to swap out because it is embedded in praise. Instead of telling learners they did well on a task, tell learners they “demonstrated proficiency” in a specific area.


  1. Enhance

If you think your learners have a clear understanding of “improve”, why not upgrade it to “enhance”? Learners use prior knowledge of a term to understand its synonym, consolidating their understanding.


  1. Anonymous

Ever had a learner submit a worksheet with no name on it? This would be a great context to embed the word “anonymous”. Learners can use the context of the situation to develop their understanding of the word.


  1. Collaborate

Rather than asking learners to work in pairs or groups, ask them to “collaborate”. This is a simple but effective upgrade from the Tier 1 to the Tier 2, and learners gain context clues for the word through the actions of others, strengthening comprehension.


  1. Alternative

Developing learners’ analytical skills involves asking for multiple thoughts around a topic or text. Instead of asking for another idea, ask for an “alternative” idea – or when this word has had repeated exposures and is secure, an “alternative interpretation”. Not only is this an easy swap, but it prepares learners for the language of higher education.


  1. Formulate

Instead of asking learners to put together a response, ask them to “formulate” a response. This provides a high-quality exposure to this word, while also giving learners the prior knowledge and context clues when they are exposed to the Tier 3 word, formula, in maths. This demonstrates how simple upgrades in language can have effects across the curriculum.


  1. Beneficial

So much of what you do in the classroom benefits your learners. Whether it’s their overall knowledge, their grades, their CVs, their lives – everything you do for your learners sets them up for success.


Tell your learners how “beneficial” the work they are doing is. Not only will it boost their motivation, but it gives them great exposure to a new Tier 2 word.


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