How to develop a wide vocabulary for the 11 Plus

Because vocabulary knowledge is so important we believe children preparing at home simply do not do enough work on this particular area. This is partially because the topic is so large and varied that there isn’t (and could never be) a single book that would cover everything for a child.

Most tutors do insist children do a great deal of vocabulary development work BUT parents must also do their bit by making sure children read every day at home, without the reading element the money spent on tutoring may well be wasted.

How to develop your child’s vocabulary?

  1. Download our 11+ Vocabulary List- Download our free Vocabulary List with 500+ words and work through twenty words each week with your child. The Vocabulary List is available as PDF here- 11 Plus Vocabulary List.
  2. Use other learning resources- It is important to use other learning resources to help with your child’s vocabulary development. Our recommended course it The Complete Vocabulary Course as it helps build up your child’s skills over time with constant revision, however, there is a shorter Vocabulary Enhance Course and even shorter Vocabulary Boost Course if you have less time.
  3. Read every day- They should read every day, seven days a week for at least half an hour- Here’s some help with book lists for 11 Plus.
  4. Additional Spelling Work- They should be doing some additional spelling work each week vocabulary is such an important part of the 11+ exam. These are the books we recommend for 11 Plus spelling development
  5. Paired Reading- Families should try and do some paired reading each week (where you both read a book together. This helps accelerate both reading fluency and vocabulary knowledge). Read our guide on paired reading.
  6. Classic Books- Children should read at least some classic books in order to develop a much wider vocabulary. We offer guidance on which books to read here – 11 Plus Classic Book Reading list.

Further Development

Children should (at the end of each week) do their own personalised spelling test incorporating the most difficult words they have either found themselves and added to their word list, or words they struggled with in their spelling exercises or words they found in their reading which were particularly difficult.

In addition, there are some English exercise books which are particularly useful for helping to develop a wide vocabulary. We have listed these books on this 11 Plus Vocabulary Development Books list. Children can work through the books we have recommended doing a page or two each week depending on how much time they have available.

Vocabulary Development Games

Finally, there are some games which can deliver welcome relief from the more labour intensive parts of the learning process. We’d encourage families to play these games because they really help to keep a wider vocabulary going. The two games we’d recommend are either Boggle or Scrabble or ideally both- Boggle is useful when you have a short period of time, Scrabble is useful when you have longer.

Boggle is less advanced but perhaps more fun and is really useful. Because it is a game with time limits it helps children to recall words under some degree of pressure. If you have a spare ten minutes at the end of a session a game or two of boggle can be a fun way to end things.

Scrabble is a little more advanced but does take longer so perhaps is more useful on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or on a day when no work is scheduled. Scrabble will encourage to think of longer words and will stretch their spelling knowledge.

If a word comes up that children don’t know then you can, of course, add it to that week’s list of words to learn.