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Summer week 2

Mentor materials

Observation discussion - implicitly and explicitly teaching vocabulary

Practice focus




To have planned for and practised implicitly and explicitly teaching vocabulary.


In your last mentor session, you supported your teacher to plan to develop pupils’ vocabulary. This week you should observe them developing pupils’ vocabulary implicitly and/or explicitly.

What you look for may vary depending on the phase that your teacher teaches. There, suggested focuses have been separated into ‘Early Years’ and Primary and Secondary’.

Early Years

When observing your teacher, consider whether they use elements of Sustained Shared Thinking:

  • tuning in
  • showing genuine interest
  • asking children to elaborate
  • recapping
  • giving their own experience
  • clarifying ideas
  • using encouragement to extend thinking
  • suggesting
  • reminding
  • asking open questions
  • encourage pupils to respond in full sentences (although not included in Sustained Shared Thinking, this is a good way to develop pupils’ language)

Primary and Secondary

When observing your teacher consider whether they:

  • Model using the word multiple times throughout the lesson.
  • Provide examples of what it means (in relation to the subject they are teaching if the word has multiple meanings if different subjects).
  • Provide pupils with an opportunity to practice using the vocabulary independently, in pairs or in groups.
  • Have vocabulary on display to support pupils using it if appropriate.
  • Hold high expectations, ensuring pupils use that vocabulary when they speak or write, correcting pupils where necessary.

Praise, probe and set precise actions

The following practise should be focused around the outcomes of the probe and precise actions, so that it is specific to your teacher’s developmental needs. However, below are some practise ideas based on the online study content to support you if needed.

Plan and practice ideas

Work with your teacher to plan and practise teaching vocabulary implicitly and explicitly. You may wish to focus on one or two of the areas outlined above.

Key questions and talking points

  1. What was the impact on implicitly/explicitly developing and/or teaching vocabulary?
  2. How could you have developed pupils’ vocabulary further?

Additional resources:

Education Endowment Foundation’s recommendations to support improving early language and literacy

Education Endowment Foundation’s improving literacy in key stage 1 guidance

Education Endowment Foundation’s improving literacy in key stage 2 guidance

Education Endowment Foundation’s improving literacy in secondary schools guidance