I’ve been teaching English for over twenty years now. Let me share with you the game-changer that I’ve discovered this year… vocabulary PowerPoints.
Classes love being read to, and whilst GCSE students ‘should’ be able to read chapters of a set text themselves, you need to know that they’ve done it properly – that they’ve understood what every word means, got the right idea about exactly what’s going on, and aren’t prevented from understanding plot and character by a misunderstanding of vocabulary. If you’ve ever taught a novel in an English Literature class, you’ll know the pain of having to stop every few minutes (seconds?!) to explain what the tricky vocabulary means. What a shame it is to keep pausing the flow of the novel. I’ve spent years doing just that.
If you’re lucky enough to be teaching a class of able readers who will happily pre-read chapters at home before dissecting them in the next lesson, the last thing that you need is for these pupils to have to interrupt their reading to look up a couple of words on each page.
There are some fabulous books on the GCSE syllabuses, and one of my current favourites is ‘Lord of the Flies’. There’s plenty of action and human-interest to draw in even the most reluctant pupil, but it contains enough complex imagery, symbolism and linguistic features to make it challenging enough for grade 9 students. But what about the vocabulary? Well, some of it is challenging to say the least. How many GCSE students would comfortably be able to define ‘effulgence’, ‘ebullience’ and ‘vicissitude’, the strictly-public-school vocabulary of ‘precentor’, ‘caps of maintenance’, or a splash of references from the classics – ‘leviathan’ and ‘Berengaria’, anyone? Some of this vocabulary could certainly be skipped over without it impinging a pupil’s ability to understand what’s going on, but then there’s the huge amount of geographical terms that are really necessary to understand if you’re going to be able to visualise the island itself.
So, this term I came up with a solution. Share all of the tricky vocabulary and its meaning on a PowerPoint to display as I read to the class. That way, we could stop to discuss how we felt about a scene, the implications of the symbolism, and the fabulousness of a metaphor, but not have to keep explaining definutions that half of the class already knew and many had no interest in. Great, I thought. Where can I download it from? Nowhere it turned out! Cue hours and hours of typing up slides before each lesson when I had plenty of other stuff to do. It was worth it though – it worked a treat!
If you’re teaching or studying ‘Lord of the Flies’ this year and want to save yourself hours (and hours) of work, you can buy my Lord of the Flies Vocabulary PowerPoint here.
The vocabulary is organised in the order that it appears in the novel, with each chapter having it’s own heading so that you can find it easily.
Many words, especially the the island’s geological features, are represented with pictures to aid your student’s understanding.
I’ve included some flat icons to help students to understand some so the more difficult verbs.
You can buy my Lord of the Flies Vocabulary PowerPoint here.
I’m currently working on a Vocabulary PowerPoint for Malorie Blackman’s ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’, which is new on the EDUQAS GCSE syllabus for 2025 exams.
Would you be interested in Vocabulary PowerPoints for any other novel? Which texts are you studying with your classes next year?