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The Staffroom

Nov 9, 2018

Show Notes

In this special episode of ‘The Staffroom’, we spoke to UK based former English teacher, author and director of research, Alex Quigley (@HuntingEnglish). Alex spoke to us about his recent book, ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ and gave us insightful research based expert knowledge on the importance of vocabulary in education.

We found Alex’s ideas and perspectives on vocabulary both inspiring and intelligent. As English teachers, his insights into creating word-rich classrooms where students deconstruct vocabulary and build knowledge is something we found particularly powerful.

Throughout our chat with Alex, we were fortunate enough to speak about the topics below. Here’s a break-down of Alex’s responses complete with time-stamps:

  • At what point in Alex’s career did he decide to focus on research? (4:25)
  • Why does Alex believe that a lack of vocabulary is a world-wide issue for children? (6:17)
  • What does Alex mean by ‘the vocabulary gap’ and what does he say that his book sets out to do? (7:15)
  • Why doesn’t Alex think it’s too late for children over the age of 5 to develop their vocabulary capacity? (10:46)
  • How does Alex describe his ideas on ‘word-depth’ and what does he say about making children more ‘word conscious’? (13:05)
  • How does Alex define etymology and morphology? Why does he believe they play a vital role in the development of children’s vocabulary? (18:30)
  • When it comes to teaching academic vocabulary, how does Alex explain the ‘three-tiered hierarchy for words’ approach? (22:55)
  • Does Alex think that teachers have become too lazy to teach vocabulary? Why does Alex think that teachers don’t refer to Tier 2 words enough? (28:18)
  • What are Alex’s views on spelling tests? What does he suggest are better ways for teachers to teach spelling? (32:16)
  • What does Alex say about creating memorable ‘hooks’ for students to aid the development of vocabulary and the building of knowledge? (41:05)
  • What does Alex think that all teachers should know about teaching reading effectively? Why does Alex believe that reading is incredibly valuable for the development of vocabulary? (42:16)


If you’d like further information about Alex, you can check-out his website, Also, if you’d like to read more of Alex’s published work, you can find a list of his books on Amazon where they are available to purchase.

We hope you enjoy this episode of The Staffroom and found Alex’s words as fascinating as we did. We can’t wait to make vocabulary a focus in our classroom practice!


Until next time!

Jamie, Michael and Tessa