The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education


This document was originally produced at a BATOD South West meeting during a 'workshop' session. The intention is to help colleagues to construct worksheets appropriate to deaf pupils but the advice is valid for many of those with Special Educational Needs in mainstream classes.

General points

Think about the language BEFORE you start.

  1. What essential technical/specific language do you need to use? (Technical language must be learned.)
  2. Perhaps there is a need for more than one level of worksheet for the class.
  3. Use clear headings which give a good idea of the subject matter to follow.
  4. Think about vocabulary. Is there a more common word which will do as well?
  5. Consider the type size, spacing on the page and layout. Is it as clear as it could be?
  6. Clearly labelled diagrams and/or pictures help.
  7. Use carrier language appropriate to the level of the subject matter and the age/ability of the children.
  8. Simplification may result in longer or shorter text.
  9. Is there an appropriate picture or diagram that can be used to aid understanding (and attract interest)?

Simple vocabulary doesn't necessarily make meaning clearer.

Specific Language Points

  1. Use short sentences
  2. Present information sequentially
  3. Write statements first, questions afterwards
  4. Avoid the following:
    • words with double meanings
    • passive constructions eg 'The radio was invented by Marconi' would be better phrased as - 'Marconi invented the radio.'

Teachers should still be aware that pupils with language difficulties may have problems with everyday words such as 'sag', 'spread', 'utensil'. It may not be possible to take account of this in the preparation of worksheets for a wider group, but support staff should be encouraged to help pupils with such words.

BATOD and NATED have published a booklet 'The Language of Examinations' which looks closely at the subject of language modification. The 2nd edition of the booklet was updated in 2011. The book is now available electronically cost of 15.00.


BATOD Publishing, 41 The Orchard, Leven, Beverley, East Yorkshire HU17 5QA

BATOD members may access this publication free when logged into the website.

There may be INSET courses available dealing with this area of concern.