Closing the Vocabulary Gap – Alex Quigley

We all know that there are students who fail at school.  In this book, Alex Quigley states that one of the main reasons for this is the ‘vocabulary gap’.  He gives a wide variety of ideas about how to specifically teach vocabulary across the curriculum so that all children become word rich.  In becoming word rich, they will not be disadvantaged by their lack of academic vocabulary. He believes that closing the vocabulary gap is the key to success and that it is the job of all teachers (not just English teachers).  Having read a lot recently about teaching students who do not have English as their primary language, the strategies he suggests would also be very useful for second language learners.  

Quigley states ‘It is the core business of every teacher not just to understand how children learn to read, but also how they read to learn.  As I mentioned in a previous review, I don’t think our primary teachers are properly trained to teach reading so I wonder if initial teacher training for secondary teachers has any time given over to helping teachers of all subjects understand how children learn to read and if any courses focus on reading to learn.

Quigley has 7 steps (with ideas to support them) to help students develop vocabulary.

  1. Train teachers to become more knowledgeable and confident in explicit vocabulary teaching.
  2. Teach academic vocabulary explicitly and clearly, with coherent planning throughout the curriculum.
  3. Foster structured reading opportunities in a model that supports students with vocabulary deficits.
  4. Promote and scaffold high quality academic talk in the classroom.
  5. Promote and scaffold high quality academic writing in the classroom.
  6. Foster ‘word consciousness’ in our students (e.g. sharing etymology and morphology of words).
  7. Teach students independent word learning strategies.

There is also a great chapter on spelling and lots of practical activities.  I would highly recommend this book.