UK Faces Increased Vocabulary Deficiency

3:27 AM

More Children Suffer from Stunted Vocabularies


Teachers in the UK are encountering an increased number of children that are suffering from stunted vocabularies. This seems to be a situation that is haunting not only primary schools but secondary ones as well. Teachers also fear that such deficiency in vocabulary might hold these students back not only educationally but socially as well. Education professional Peter Gale Headteacher expands more about this growing concern. With twenty years of experience in education leadership, he used to be an Ofsted inspector where part of his responsibilities are training teachers in schools and universities and school inspections. Below he details more on the growing issue of vocabulary deficiency in the UK.

In a move to address the issue, there are schools that have chosen to adopt certain approaches such as highlighting the use of informal words and encouraging pupils to widen and improve their use of the English language. A survey consisting of 1,300 secondary and primary school teachers across the country revealed that over 60% of the respondents saw a rise in the incidents of pupils from all ages that show underdeveloped vocabulary. This often leads to negative behaviour, lower self-esteem, as well as difficulty in gaining new friends in some cases.

The report also revealed that this word gap among many students even remained quite high during their secondary years. According to experienced educational professional Peter Gale, this can present a problem since teachers tend to have lesser time and even fewer resources that will allow them to tackle this issue head-on.

These findings are quite significant especially since language development is a very important focus in the first few years of education. There has been relatively little research conducted when it comes to language deficit among children and as they progress to secondary education.

Teachers from secondary schools have also asserted that deficiency on vocabulary among students often holds back their progress not only in the English subject but also across a number of other subjects such as geography and history. Students that tend to have low vocabulary are also not likely to do well in terms of national tests. They also tend to have a hard time understanding questions and instructions that are included in the papers.

In addition, about a third of teachers from secondary schools have reported that there is also a widening gap in vocabulary between the first and the last years of secondary study. Majority of those that have been surveyed blame this to the declining number of students that read for pleasure, which is especially true among older students.

Both teachers in the secondary and primary schools also agreed that the impact that this will have on students will likely be severe. About 80% agree that children who have vocabulary efficiency are likely to suffer from lower self-esteem. In addition, teachers that come from schools have a higher number of children that are eligible to get free school meals are also likely to encounter more students that have low vocabularies. 

Watch the video below to learn more.



Greater involvement among parents may be a good way to help the children improve their vocabulary in the process. To find out more about Peter Gale Headteacher, follow him on Twitter. You can also like the Peter Gale Headteacher Facebook page.

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