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UK report finds growing vocabulary deficiency among students

In the UK, a report commissioned by Oxford University Press (OUP) has found the number of students with ‘limited’ vocabularies is increasing, with the majority of teachers blaming this ‘word gap’ or ‘vocabulary gap’ on a decline in the number of children reading for pleasure.

According to the report, more than half of the 1300 UK primary and secondary school teachers surveyed felt at least 40% of their pupils lacked the vocabulary needed to access their learning. Furthermore, 69% of primary school teachers and 60% of secondary school teachers believe the gap is increasing.

A third of secondary school teachers reported a widening vocabulary gap between the first and last years of secondary school. The majority of teacher responses blamed declining numbers of children reading for pleasure for shrinking vocabularies, especially among older pupils.

In the report, University of Oxford professor of experimental psychology Kate Nation said language variation in children is ‘complex and difficult to attribute to a single cause’. ‘Regardless of the causes, low levels of vocabulary set limits on literacy, understanding, learning the curriculum and can create a downward spiral of poor language which begins to affect all aspects of life,’ said Nation.

The report further revealed that 80% of secondary school teachers surveyed said they believe a word gap results in lower self-esteem and 82% said that pupils with a limited vocabulary are less likely to stay in education.

To read the full OUP report ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters’, see the OUP website.


Category: International news