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Vocabulary & DLD

Can a student’s vocabulary impact on their ability to learn at school? In this episode of The Talking DLD Podcast we are talking vocabulary. Our special guests are Stephen Parsons & Anna Branagan, Speech and Language Therapists, trainers and co-authors of resources ‘Language for Thinking’, ‘Word Aware’ (primary and Early Years) and ‘Language for Behaviour and Emotions.’ 

How important is vocabulary?

Vocabulary is important from Early Years right through to secondary / high schooling as a result of the vast explosion of topic specific information. Hjetland et al (2017), in their systematic review found that spoken vocabulary predicted children’s latter reading development. Vocabulary relates to reading comprehension, but impacts equally on curriculum areas that require specific word knowledge such as mathematics and science.

Waldfogel and Washbrook, (2010) found a two year gap at aged 5 years between the wealthiest and the poorest. And as Ford-Connors and Paratore (2015) highlight ‘students who enter classrooms with a low store of vocabulary knowledge are unlikely to acquire complex knowledge through simple exposure’.


" To access the curriculum you need a lot of vocabulary. For our students with DLD, that's a BIG barrier."

Word Aware is a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children. Focussed on whole class learning, the resource is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language, but it will extend the word learning of all students.

" Families are absolutely fundamental to our approach because they have opportunities to reinforce, to have fun with words with a very high adult to child ratio."

Tune into Vocabulary & DLD | Episode 5 Season 2 of The Talking DLD Podcast to hear classroom strategies for increasing learning and what families can do at home to help students with DLD grow their vocabulary.

Vocabulary & DLD Stephen Parsons

More about Stephen Parsons

Stephen Parsons is a Speech and Language Therapist with over 30 years’ experience in the field, including 1996–2017 in Hackney and the City of London where he was Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager for a number of years. He is Chair of NAPLIC, the UK organisation for professionals working with developmental language disorder, and UK representative of RADLD, the international campaign to raise awareness of developmental language disorder.

Vocabulary & Language Anna Branagan

More about Anna Branagan

Anna Branagan has over 25 years experience as a Speech and Language Therapist. Anna trained in the UK and now practices in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. In her specialist role she supports schools to develop inclusive practice. She also works within a Youth Support Team working with vulnerable teanagers.

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