Strand 7

Slides 56
Strands 5&6
25th August 2021
Slides 8
Strand 8
25th August 2021

Learning outcomes


  • Know about the value of scaffolding language


  • Be able to identify technical language
  • Be able to scaffold academic and technical language


  • Develop appropriate groupings for supporting focused scaffolding


Strand Overview

7a. Are everyday, technical and academic vocabulary and language structures (language form – the grammatical structure of words and phrases, as well as the word themselves) scaffolded to support comprehensible input? Within early years, has the specific vocabulary and language structures (both every day and technical as well as patterns of language) been considered in advance so that they can then be applied across a range of contexts to support understanding?
7b. Is the language function (what learners do with language as they engage with it, e.g. evaluate) scaffolded to support comprehensible input? Within early years, does the adult enable the learner to use the language that fulfills the function as well as comprehend their utterance?
7c. Are learners using new vocabulary in a variety of ways and moving it into their receptive repertoire? Within early years, are adults eliciting vocabulary and language structures in repetitive stories through sayings that help them comprehend, hear and repeat phrasing. Are there also joining-in opportunities that don’t rely on children having to understand everything adults say but still support their language learning e.g. rhymes, songs, block play. Additionally, ensuring outdoor play that allows for learners to engage with new vocabulary is valued.
7d. Are learners pre-learning vocabulary and language structures? Within early years, have learners had significant exposure to interactions with adults (in any language) and language rich environments.
7e. Are suitable teaching methods and strategies used to support learning vocabulary and language structures? (e.g. writing frames or substitution tables?) Within early years, are adults actively coaching language through expansion and extensions as well as grammatical recasting?
7f. Is there appropriate grouping for supporting focused scaffolding? Within early years, are there small-group opportunities for adults to provide additional or intensive focus on language? E.g. small group walk to the park, making play dough and mixing paint.


All resources are listed in the Shared Document for this strand and strand 7 of the Portal.


Slide 2 – Focused scaffolding – what is it? Why do we need it?

Although scaffolding should be integral to all learning, this Strand highlights its importance.

Gibbons outlines ‘designed scaffolding’ as follows:

  • “Programs build on students’ prior knowledge and their current language skills (both home language and their second language), while at the same time embracing new content and language goals
  • Clear and explicit program goals are shared with the students
  • Tasks are sequenced so that each task serves as the ‘building block’ for the subsequent task
  • A variety of organisational structures is used (pair work, group work, individual work, teacher-directed whole class work)
  • The curriculum is amplified not simplified: teachers use ‘message abundance’.”


Slide 3 – Are learners remembering new vocabulary?

“Cassels and Johnstone (1985) found that pupils had little understanding of important vocabulary (words like incident, component, random, negligible) and that this persisted throughout their school years. If they did not understand the word to start with, they still wouldn’t understand it several years later.

Why does this happen? It happens partly because we may not realise that children don’t know words that seem to us basic. Teachers may be aware that they need to teach subject-specific technical vocabulary, but not know they need to teach non-specialist vocabulary that recurs across learning contexts. We know from research, too, that teachers typically introduce a new word and explain it just once (Scott et al 2003), whereas children need to hear a word around 6 times (more if they have language difficulties) in a range of contexts that help them internalise its meaning, if they are to remember it.”
Gross, J. (2013) Time to Talk: Implementing outstanding practice in speech, language and communication, David Fulton: Oxon

The National Curriculum states that:

“Pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the curriculum. Teachers should therefore develop vocabulary actively, building systematically on pupils’ current knowledge.”
(National Curriculum of England, 2014)

We need to scaffold new vocabulary in a variety of modes.


Slide 4 – High-frequency words

High-frequency word learning game: the participants work in pairs to match the titles of the ‘Activities for introducing and practising high-frequency words’ to the details (see activity 7.1)


  • Which have you used?
  • Circle the ones you would be keen to try
  • Share this with a partner


Slide 5 – Scaffolding technical language

Refer to the slide. 

What academic and everyday language lends itself to these subjects?

Possible examples:

Subject: Ancient Egypt
Technical language: pyramid, pharaoh
Academic language: created, constructed, developed
Everyday language: had, did (past tense)

Subject: Programming
Technical language: algorithm, code
Academic language: calculate, solving, define, identify
Everyday language: sequential connectives, e.g. ‘next’


Slide 6 – Academic and everyday language

Refer to the slide.

What academic and everyday language lends itself to this subject?

Possible answer:

Subject: Programming
Academic language: calculate, solving, define, identify
Everyday language: sequential connectives, e.g. ‘next’

Consider the types of vocabulary that need to be scaffolded (see Activity 7.2).


Slide 7 – What academic language should we teach?

Refer to Activity 7.3.

There is an example of high-frequency words by level of thinking (based on Bloom’s taxonomy) listed in the Shared document.

Ask the participants:

  • Are you covering a whole range of academic language? How can you systematically teach this?
  • Can you prioritise frequently used words?
  • Can a learning objective include a carefully chosen corresponding academic action verb?


Slide 8 – Meshing everyday and academic language


Teachers need to model the use of academic language in discussion with students.

See Activity 7.4

Participants should identify more formal language for the following:

  • Ask for
  • Find
  • Help 
  • Check
  • Get


  • Ask for – request
  • Find – identify
  • Help – assist
  • Check – verify
  • Get  – receive

Statements appear more informal when we use:

  • Contractions, e.g. ‘can’t’
  • Slang/colloquialisms, e.g. ‘time flies’ or ‘gang’
  • First person pronouns, e.g. ‘I would like to…’
  • Phrasal verbs, e.g. ‘got over’

Participants adapt the sentences in Activity 7.5 to be more formal:

Informal: The changes can’t be introduced following the station redesign.
Formal: The changes can not be introduced following the station redesign.

Phrasal verb
Informal: The balloon was blown up for research purposes.
Formal: The balloon was inflated for research purposes.

Phrasal verb
Informal: The nurse ensured the patient got over his illness.
Formal: The nurse ensured the patient recovered from his illness.

Phrasal verb
Informal: The results of the project were mixed up.
Formal: The results of the project were confused.

Informal: They had a wicked time at the party.
Formal: They had an enjoyable time at the party.

First person pronoun
Informal: I used a few different methods before deciding on the best course of action.
Formal: A few different methods were used before the best course of action was decided on.


Slide 9 – Vocabulary focuses

When introducing a new topic, it’s important to begin with a vocabulary focus. Ideally, EAL learners should be given some vocabulary to study prior to lessons, so that they come prepared.

The ‘Spelling Log’ (Activity 7.6) can help learners to repeat the learning of their vocabulary or language structures daily. Combined with flashcard activities, this can provide a structured approach to pre-learning.


Slide 10 – Supportive strategies


These strategies can have a powerful impact of the development of vocabulary and language structures.


Slide 11 – Is there appropriate grouping for supporting focussed scaffolding?


There isn’t one solution and participants will come up with the best solutions for their context.


Slide 12 – Post-session learning

All participants should ensure they read any ‘Further learning‘ sections within Strand 7 that were not covered in the session.


Slide 13 – Reflection and Action Points

Allow participants 5 minutes’ reflection time to add to their Reflection and Action Points notes.

Tasks for participants:

  • Are there practical tasks found in this session you can ask participants to try out themselves?
  • Can they then feedback on these tasks in a follow-up session or at a later date?
Across Cultures

Enter your details below to access the free download.