The use of academic language and sophisticated vocabulary is integral to expanding upon analysis and developing a personal interpretation. Quite often, pupils find that they are unable to find something to say about a text, when in actual fact this isn't the case. They know that a simile has been used, and they have an idea as to why. The problem lies in their expression and the bank of words/phrases that they currently have. As educators, we sometimes forget that their academic register needs to be developed in the same way as their ability to analyse and interpret.
In order to help my pupils, I sometimes just give a quick verbal nudge in the right direction: 'why don't you start with the phrase, the writer is trying to convey...' In most cases, this then prompts them to finish the sentence with the original ideas they were struggling to put into words. This is the power of vocabulary. Alongside teaching the skills of analysis and the devices to look out for, we also have to teach pupils how to express themselves.
With this in mind, I have created a guide sheet that breaks down all of the different phrases and words that pupils will need in different situations e.g. words to discuss the effect on the reader, phrases to develop an interpretation, words to discuss writer's intention and so on.
I use this guide in many ways - here are some of my most successful strategies:
As a wall display
For use as speaking stems in verbal discussion
Glued into books as a handy guide
As part of an essay writing guide in booklets
Modelling on the board; using model paragraphs; verbal modelling
For reflection - pupils highlight the words they have used and write targets for what they will use next time. They can also edit here and add in any vocabulary that upon reflection, they feel would sound better.
In addition to using these generic phrases that can be used to discuss a wide variety of texts, I also ensure that I provide vocabulary banks that are specific to the unit we are studying. I find that pupils love to learn these new words and feel a sense of accomplishment when they apply them. I make reference to this specific vocabulary each lesson so as to encourage their use and to further enhance the sophistication of my pupils' expression.
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