Sometimes encouraging pupils to produce literature coursework is difficult because the spirit isn’t willing. While they see the adult-needs purpose of getting an English qualification, I have sometimes heard voiced the objection that they find discussing the profundity of life in the classroom to be, at least, contrived.

How would you reply? With the idea that most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people? English is a subject that, I think, when a critical mass of pupils feel is their excuse to talk about what really matters, can be the most relevant subject. And literature, the most relevant component of that.

So, you have a student who is willing in spirit. Unfortunately, their body (of vocabulary) is weak. They want to express and explore their perception of people and the world around them, but simply struggle for the words to do so. While their spoken language may be rich in informal expression, their written language is limited to basic lexical words with a bolted-on ‘very’ or, at worst, ‘really’ (which implies, as always, the negation of a ‘fakely’). What do you do?

Of course a thesaurus is the tool to use. Being able to see what other words may link to the basic word you want is empowering for students. The power with it, as I said, is seeing the other words.

Show this to your students. It is free to use for 15 words, which may be enough to push a student into another grade boundary. And if they begin to click through to other words, something else may happen.

They may be willing to look at words for their own sake. Blimey!