To succeed in an 11+ English paper a well-developed vocabulary is essential. Encourage your child to read as wide a range of books as possible, and from different eras. The difference in the vocabulary between a book written in the 21st century and one written 100 years earlier is very considerable. You will find our suggestions for further reading here.
Vocabulary flash cards are also very useful for English and Verbal Reasoning practice. There are two word lists available to download for free here in our Free 11 Plus Practice Papers section. You can easily create the cards by using an online flashcard maker (a good one can be found on Senteacher’s website) or simply by copying and pasting them in to a word processor and creating a table with around 15 – 18 cards per page. You can then either spend a few minutes each day with your child going through the flash cards or stick them on doors around the house for your child to find and learn.
Whichever method you choose to use, you should encourage your child to make sentences using the word that are grammatically accurate (a noun used as a noun, a verb as a verb, etc) and that use the word in the correct semantic context. Once the child’s usage of the word is completely secure, you can move on to the next one.
To prevent the process of learning vocabulary becoming dull or repetitive, it can be a useful ploy to ask your child to use the word as often as possible for one day at a time. As an example, the word “decline” can be incorporated into everyday usage as a substitute for the phrase “No, thank you”, e.g. “Would you like some more bread?” “No, I am going to decline your offer because I am full.” Many children find this an enjoyable challenge, and often other members of the family will join in the game, which is a real bonus if you have younger children who may also be taking the 11+ in future years!