Eleven Plus Exams has won the People's Choice for Tuition Partner award at the 2024 National Tutoring Awards. We wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted for us and we are delighted that winning this award will help us to support more students to achieve their highest potential in the selective school examination process. Read more.

Son struggles with English

11 Plus English - Preparation and Information

Moderators: Section Moderators, Forum Moderators

Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:12 pm

Son struggles with English

Post by Tucks »

My son finds comprehension difficult; he will read a text and miss out the key points and answer incorrectly, and he struggles with inference questions.

He is scoring 6/10 on the 9-10 age CGP 10 min comprehension books, but he will score lower if the test and text are longer. At this stage he should be doing the 10/11 CGP tests but he just isn't ready

I hired an English tutor in December, but the results have been underwhelming; he has only shown a slight improvement. The tutor's suggestions are that he continues to read and practice but it doesn't seem to be improving much.

For the past 6 months I have made him read aloud to me, so i can check his understanding and ask him questions. We do this 3 times a week.

We have switched from older classic texts to more modern texts which interest him more; I have increased / decreased how often he reads aloud but there hasn't been much of an improvement.

Also, although his vocabulary is decent, its not as polished as it needs to be for the 11 plus. Thankfully, his grammar and punctuation are good.

I really need some advice on what to do.

I have accepted that passing the 11+ is unlikely but I am concerned about his general English.

How do I improve his vocab and comprehension - these are life long skills he needs to master.

What am I doing wrong?
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2022 11:00 pm

Re: Son struggles with English

Post by Annie42 »

We were struggling with English this time last year too. Really strong Maths and VR but English not as good.
Are you in a superselective area or do you just need a pass? We were the latter and also didn't need a pass in each individual subject (just one overall pass mark) which helped us a lot and your strategy would probably be different to ours if your area is superselective and / or needed a pass in all separate subjects.
The main things which helped us were ..

- advice from this forum!

- accepted English wasn't as strong as Maths, so stuck with CGP 9- 10 books and even a few year 4 comprehension books to boost confidence (I never used any CGP English 10-11 books even towards the end but did use the Maths and VR 10-11 as he was fine with those and so was happy to stretch him further on those subjects)

- read some classics to him and paused at words he didn't know to talk about them (he liked goodnight Mr Tom, railway children) but accepted there was no way he would ever read them himself so didn't even try getting him to do that! Also chatted through what happened at end of each chapter, how was character feeling, what would you advise them to do, what do you think will happen next etc.

- got him some non fiction books which he would read with persuasion. He liked ones about nature / animals, volcanoes etc. He still didn't read many of them but every little helps!

- did comprehensions together to try make them a bit more palatable / relaxed for him. We'd take it in turns to read a chapter then talk through the questions some of the time rather than getting him to do them just on his own and write answers down.

- got the foxtons vocab cards which we picked a few every do often and talked through. He did find that boring though!

- we had a tutor for him but TBH for the English he needed one to one and little and often and I did all that with him, a tutor can only do so much.

- really tried to boost his confidence and tell him he was good at English ( which he is actually okay but he thinks he's terrible!). Really focused on timing with him too as he was rushing through it as didn't enjoy it. Had to get him to slow down!

Good luck! Scores on the 9- 10 books by the way were similar to your DC this time last year so definitely don't lose hope
Posts: 1275
Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: Son struggles with English

Post by Aethel »

There are two things that can make comprehension extra difficult: is there a family history ofneither of these?

1) dyslexia: children with slow proccessing will struggle to parse and analyse the dense text seen in comprehension exercises in the time that’s allowed for them.
If you suspect this consider paying for a full private assessment (which can be used to request extra time if the exam organisers are aware ofnit early, and used for an appeal if the extra time is not granted but child is just short of the pass). more importantly it will identify any dyslexia which can then be accommodated for in school and can make a huge difference to cinfidence/achievement in future.

2) autistic spectrum traits: children with ASD and traits can be very literal and so questions which involve inference (how was this character feeling, what is the likely outcome, why is this thing important) can be difficult for them to answer quickly/correctly compared to a non-autistic child.
Again if you have concerns of this or family with diagnoses (or not diagnosed but super geeky/ecccentric types all over the family tree, an assessment or discussion with school SENCO is worth considering.

lots of children without these traits also find English difficult so don’t give up, just be realistic and supportive of your child!
Post Reply
Mock around the clock - £15 off your first mock exam