The result of a year-long research trial, a new report from Professor Arlene Holmes-Henderson and Katrina Kelly reveals the effectiveness of the online learning platform Vocabulous in teaching primary and secondary school pupils word roots and empowering them to deploy this knowledge to decode unfamiliar English vocabulary.

Working with 11 participating schools in the North of England over the 2022/23 academic year, the efficacy of Vocabulous in teaching word roots and vocabulary at the transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 was gauged through a pair of tests: a baseline test taken at the beginning of the students’ Vocabulous use and a final assessment following 7–10 months of training on the platform.

For those pupils who took both tests, there was a clear improvement in students’ recognition of word roots and ability to apply this knowledge to understand and use a range of new English vocabulary. One primary school saw an average 32% increase in vocabulary test scores by the end of the trial. 

The headteacher of one primary school, when discussing the high level of disadvantage faced by the majority of pupils at her school, said that using Vocabulous has “given them strategies to cope with the challenges they face” outside of the classroom. She drew the connection between Vocabulous use and recent spelling scores which were “the highest they’ve ever been”.   

Grateful thanks to Christ Church, Oxford, for funding this research.

Read the research report here

Designing Vocabulous: a Case Study in Classics, EdTech and English Literacy

Vocabulous has been featured in the Journal of Classics Teaching, in an article written by founder, Lucy Huelin.

This article examines the website Vocabulous, an innovative resource that combines Classics and English literacy. It discusses the pedagogy behind the site, the selection of Latin and Greek roots, the design of the questions (based on vocabulary acquisition research) and the use of animated videos to engage students.

The article concludes by outlining the current Vocabulous trial with 10–13-year-olds in 50 schools across the UK, combining teacher testimonies with ideas for practical application in the classroom.

Read article

Case Study - Parklands Primary School, Leeds

Sam Rennison, a Year 6 teacher at Parklands, said of Vocabulous: “I just think it’s been an amazing tool. It’s introduced them to a whole new range of parts of words that they haven’t come across before.

“It’s amazing really because they’re actually trying to use these words in their writing. Especially for our children who don’t have that great vocabulary, it’s building it up ready for high school.

“The children are just so engaged. They ask to do Vocabulous. It’s pitched at their level, with the Greek gods and goddesses, which makes it a bit more interesting.”

Vocabulous combines videos, animation, gamification, original music, and bright graphics to ensure students have fun while their vocabulary develops.

Read more here

Vocabulous featured in DfE report

Vocabulous is proud to be included in a recent publication, commissioned by the Department for Education as part of a Research and Public Policy Partnership with the University of Oxford, exploring the provision of two ancient languages – Ancient Greek and Latin – in primary schools in England. It also investigates existing literature on the impact of the teaching and learning of these languages on pupils’ development and outcomes.

Vocabulous is featured on page 29.

Read the report