Do you need a Word Aware trained therapist in your school?

We can place a therapist trained in Word Aware   in your school, to set up whole class approaches, small group and 1;1 Word Aware work.

We can also train Teachers and Teaching Assistants in using Word Aware. The next training date is the 27th March 2018 at the RCSLT in London – follow this link to Eventbrite to book your place


Word Aware is a whole school vocabulary approach to promote vocabulary development in children. This method of developing spoken and written vocabulary in all children is evidence-based following extensive research by Anna Branagan and Stephen Parsons. It is of particular value for children with special education needs and for those learning English as an additional language.

It is a known fact that children with good vocabulary go on to become good readers.  Orally tested vocabulary at the end of first grade is a significant prediction of reading comprehension 10 years later (Cunningham and Stanovich,1997). However, children do not always come into schools with a basic vocabulary. Although vocabulary development is crucial for school success, it has not received the attention and interest that work on identifying printed words and spellings have received (Biemiller and Slonim, 2001). The evidence is clear – we can make a difference by providing consistent attention to vocabulary growth, which in turn would improve literacy growth.

Principles of vocabulary teaching:

  1. Link oral and written vocabulary
  2. Use a range of methods
  3. Sustain Effort
  4. Go with the child (at the right rate)
  5. Use multiple exposures
  6. Teach words in context
  7. Teach strategies
  8.  Have fun

 Using a Four pronged approach (4 strands)

  1. Teaching vocabulary (STAR)
  2. Word detective: Making phonological and semantic associations
  3. Make words count: Word learning strategies, identifying whole words
  4. Fun with words: Big Brain (I think with my big brain something that is (meaning clue) and it starts with a (letter clue)

Teaching vocabulary: Teaching topic related vocabulary using STAR approach.

S- Select words from the curriculum

  • Anchor words are basic words that are really useful and the whole class should know
  • Goldilocks words are useful words that are likely to be encountered in reading/oral language
  • Step on words that are less familiar but helpful as extensions.

T- Teach words

  • Symbol: link it to visual
  • Phonology: Clap, rhyme, initial sound
  • Semantics: meaning (Collins Cobuild dictionary, word parts, different contexts)
  • Sentence: put it into a sequence
  • Action: act it out
  • Song: song or rap
  • Word wall: write it on the wall

A – Activate

  • Practical group work that engages the children.
  • Adults use the word many times
  • Prompt children to use the word
  • Link vocabulary to activity

R – Review

  • Reviewing words helps words fix into long term memory.
  • This needs to be done through words games or another simple way is to have a ‘word pot’.
  • A copy of the words can be sent home
  • Encourage parents and children to use the word at home

Further information

For more information on the approach visit

For helpful videos from Stephen Parsons: Word Aware Vocabulary Approach — Therapy Ideas Live click here.