Vocabulary and Behaviour



TES article

IoE research paper compared connections between misbehaviour at 5 and subsequent performance in a multiple-choice vocabulary test at age 15; also compared results between two different generations 30 years apart.

Key Findings seemed to be that children have a more limited vocabulary than 1970s and that there is a link between (early) behavioural issues and later more limited vocabulary knowledge.

Data from the 1970 British Cohort Study (17000 people) and the Millennium Cohort Study (19000).

Two main outcomes:

Professor Alice Sullivan (UCL, Insitute of Education):

“Using longitudinal data, following these children over time, allowed us to demonstrate that these emotional and behavioural problems have an ongoing impact on learning throughout the school years.

“This won’t surprise teachers because, when you look at the kinds of factors that feed into the scales of measuring childhood emotional and behavioural problems – irritable, disobedient, restless – these kinds of behaviours make learning more difficult.”

“It could be a decline in reading books compared to spending time on other activities, such as online activities, could have led to a decline in vocabulary. What we have is just one piece of evidence but it suggests a need for further investigation.”

Alex Quigley (EEF):

“It is hard to untangle the causes and correlations when it comes to a child’s vocabulary, language development and their behaviours in school,” he says. “Is their behaviour and inability to self-regulate hampering their ability to learn in the classroom or is their limited vocabulary causing children to act out and misbehave?""