Marsh Lane Primary School<

Marsh Lane Primary School

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At Marsh Lane Primary School. we believe that vocabulary acquisition was impacted during the pandemic. Spoken language is one of the main elements of the English Curriculum in Primary Schools. Speaking and Listening skills are a vital part of being able to communicate effectively which leads onto Reading and Writing. 

Spoken language – years 1 to 6

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play/improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication

 Developing A Spoken Language Curriculum 

One way we can accomplish this in school, is to ensure that English is not just seen as a subject but is identified as a teaching and learning tool, interweaving its way into all aspects of our schools’ curriculum.  

This idea is especially the case when looking at our spoken language provision. We have already identified that increasing our pupils’ vocabulary is key to improving attainment in all curriculum areas and so we, therefore, need to consider vocabulary acquisition, not only in English but also in maths, science, art, PE and other subjects. We therefore focus on vocabulary in all areas of the curriculum. 

Vocabulary is taught at a level appropriate to the age of the pupils and builds on the oral language skills that have been taught in preceding years. Pupils are taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness with which they are able to communicate across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences.

Pupils are given opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class. This allows pupils to understand how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates. Attention is also paid to increasing pupils' vocabulary, ranging from describing their immediate world and feelings to discussing abstract concepts and a wider range of topics and to enhancing their knowledge about language as a whole.

Pupils receive constructive feedback on their spoken language and listening, not only to improve their knowledge and skills but also to establish secure foundations for effective spoken language in their studies at primary school, helping them to achieve in secondary education and beyond.  

How we teach vocabulary at Marsh Lane Primary School

At Marsh Lane we have adopted the model of The 3 tiers of Vocabulary:

What is Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 vocabulary? This chart quickly summarizes each vocabulary tier for teachers and educators.


Tier 1 vocabulary words consist of basic, familiar words. These words are commonly used by most students in everyday conversation.  Children have the highest exposure with Tier 1 words. In fact, children are exposed to Tier 1 words from an early age, and as a result, they become easily familiar with this set of words. Perhaps the easiest way to think about Tier 1 words is to remember that the words are often used in oral conversations and familiar in speech. 


Tier 2 vocabulary words are robust, high-frequency words that children will encounter across the content areas. They are not widely used in speech and daily conversation. Unlike Tier 1 words, Tier 2 words are not usually learned naturally or independently because students do not hear or use them in conversation. A key point to understand is that Tier 2 words are often used and found in books and written text. Tier 2 vocabulary words often have multiple meanings. This tier can also be referred to as academic vocabulary words.   


Tier 3 vocabulary words are low-frequency words. These words are content specific and have distinct meanings and purposes.