Ambitious vocabulary – Intervention session for secondary English

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Word doc

Key Stage

KS3, KS4


Years 7-11


In secondary English, the concept of “ambitious vocabulary” holds significant importance. Ambitious vocabulary is about students incorporating sophisticated and refined lexical choices into their writing to evoke vivid imagery and convey nuanced meanings.

The activity on this ambitious vocabulary worksheet encourages students to seek out elevated synonyms for commonplace words such as ‘walked’, ‘bad’, ‘shout’, ‘scared’, ‘said’, and ‘confused’. By setting pupils this task, you’ll prompt learners to explore the depth and breadth of the English language, expanding their vocabulary repertoire and enhancing their expressive capabilities.

The activity serves as a springboard for creative expression and narrative development. After substituting pedestrian words with more dynamic alternatives, students can rewrite a paragraph, swapping in their new ambitious vocabulary.

This process refines writing skills and gives students a deeper appreciation for the power of language in shaping narratives and conveying emotions.

As an extension, encourage students to continue the story using the adventurous vocabulary they have uncovered. This will hone their ability to craft compelling and evocative prose.

Rewrite this paragraph with ambitious vocabulary

It was a bad day in London and grey clouds filled the sky. The rain started to come down heavily, so Jessica ran home to avoid getting wet.

“Mum, are you home?” Jessica shouted as soon as she walked into the front door, taking off her drenched coat and hanging it on the coat stand. “Mum!” Jessica said again. No answer. Jessica was confused; her mum said she was at home when she messaged her fifteen minutes ago. Suddenly, she heard the sound of footsteps upstairs.


Jessica started to get scared. Slowly, she walked up the stairs to investigate.

“Mum?” She said as she opened the door to where the sound was coming from.

Jessica was shocked at what she saw…

For more resources head to Miss Cole’s Shop on the TES.

Ambitious vocabulary worksheet
Ambitious vocabulary – Intervention session for secondary English

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