Why and how to Boost Tier 2 words

Many of our students will need a boost to their vocabulary. This may be because they have missed out on learning, or that remote learning is not as effective as in-school learning (especially for children with a learning disability).

As we know, language development is a crucial element in reading comprehension (check out ‘The Simple View of Reading’), and vocabulary is a core element of language development. So, which words should we be teaching?

There are 3 tiers of language in school:

TIER 1: Basic everyday language that children will hear and use at home, e.g. ‘dog’, ‘tired’, ‘home’, ‘slow’.
TIER 2: Highly-frequent academic words that appear across the curriculum, e.g. ‘precede’, ‘contradict’, ’emerge’.
TIER 3: Words that appear in specific fields of study, e.g. ‘photosynthesis’, ‘thesis’, ‘metaphor’.

Children in primary and middle school will need a boost to Tier 2 words. This is important because these words allow them access to the curriculum and to a higher level of reading comprehension. They may not be hearing these words at home and they many not be reading them in books.

A great way to boost the knowledge of the words is a focus on common prefixes that many of these Tier 2 words share. e.g. con/com (meaning ‘with’ as in ‘conduct’), pre (meaning ‘before’ as in ‘preview’), dis (meaning ‘apart’ as in distract’).


We have made some FREE infographics showing how you can teach these prefixes with only one root word. Children learn a batch of words with a common morpheme/meaning. The idea is that you can focus on one root word, e.g. ‘tract’ (meaning ‘pull’/’draw’) and attach it to the same prefixes the children already know. The slide above shows how you can do this.

To download these free resources go to:
UK: https://www.phonicbooks.co.uk/…/curriculum-words…/
USA: https://www.phonicbooks.com/resources/phonic-infographics/curriculum-words/

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