English: Common misconceptions
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By Fe Luton – Director of Research and Content, Subject Leaders

English as a subject lends itself to making mistakes; lots of mistakes! While mistakes are not misconceptions in themselves, they are often the result of misconception.

Identifying misconceptions in English can be a tricky business which is why in its Improving Literacy in KS2 Report, The EEF suggests that, “Teachers need to plan activities that will reveal what pupils are thinking, bringing to light learning gaps or misconceptions.” In its Teacher feedback to improve pupil learning, The EEF goes on to suggest that it is important teachers “prepare strategies to counter” these misconceptions.

A young boy reading to a teacher

General approaches to misconceptions

There are a number of approaches we can adopt around misconceptions in our day-to-day teaching:
  • Model good understanding in preference to the reliance on ‘rules’ that may offer too many exceptions or cause confusion.
  • Focus on preventing misconceptions arising by offering non-examples where you are exploring common trends or common features.
  • Use misconceptions as an assessment opportunity and incorporate them into your planning.
  • Always ask children why they have done something a certain way – this helps identify where the misconception is.
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