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What is core vocabulary?

What is core vocabulary?

Core words make up most of the speech we all use. These words tend to be small words which are not specific to a topic or activity. Core vocabulary accounts for approximately 80 percent of words actually spoken by everyone, every day. Core words consist of all word types. Some examples include:

  • verbs (action words)
  • determiners (this, that)
  • adjectives (big, little, red, round)
  • pronouns (I, you we, they)
  • prepositions (in, on, under, over, through)

Core vocabulary boards

There are 5 core vocabulary boards in total. The boards start from stage 1 through to stage 5. At each stage, more core words are added to the board so they get more complex.

The words we have already learnt and used stay in their original place on the board. This makes it easier for everyone to use.

a core vocabulary board

You can download the core vocabulary boards below:

By giving children and young people a communication board with these core words, we are providing them with a powerful tool to communicate whatever they want to say.

  • They can create their own unique sentences
  • They can express a wider variety of ideas
example of person using core vocabulary board

How can we help? 

  • Say the word aloud as you point to the symbol
  • Act upon it

For example, “up”

  • Say “up”
  • Point to “up”
  • Stand ‘up’, throw a ball ‘up’ and look and point ‘up’
  • Don’t ask the child or young person to join in. They will point in their own time.
  • Pause. But if they don’t respond continue to model.
  • Try not to ask questions and ‘test’ the child or young person. Instead, comment on what they are doing or looking at.
  • Use fun and motivating activities to get the child or young person interested
  • Make it inclusive. Make the board accessible at all times throughout the day
  • Everyone talking with the child or young person needs to use the boards

Additional resources and information

A training module on how to use core vocabulary in school.

Time: 24 minutes

A training module on modelling

Time: 59 minutes

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL109

Resource Type: Article

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