Early Language

Print Friendly

Mother holding baby It is widely agreed that early language development is critical for future learning and school readiness. There is a wealth of evidence and research that you can draw on and study to support your understanding of this prime area of learning and development.


Find out more from research:

  1. The role of language in children’s early educational outcomes – Roulstone, Law, Rush, Clegg and Peters
  2. The importance of vocabulary in later literacy outcomes – Biemiller; Hart and Risley
  3. The importance of dialogic book talk in supporting vocabulary development – Dockerell; Wasik, Bond and Hindman; Whitehurst et al.


two babies playing

In our society children need to be skillful communicators and  as  a foundation years professional you have an important role in ensuring that  children have every opportunity and support to become effective communicators.


Every professional has their part to play in supporting early language development:

  • Health visitors, in identifying at the earliest age those children who will benefit from additional support and ensuring that they get that help.
  • Speech and language therapists have a clinical role in supporting those children with identified speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and increasingly have a role in supporting early years practitioners to manage children’s SLCN through appropriate targeted interventions in settings.
  • Practitioners will be engaged with children in high quality language interactions and monitoring their progress in ways as described in the Every Child a Talker Programme.
  • All who work with foundation years children have a responsibility to engage mums and dads in supporting their child’s language development.

There is a wealth of information and organisations to support you in delivering high quality language experiences for your children, click the links below in ‘Find out more…’


Reflective questions:


How do you know what the children you interact with need to further their language development?


How do your support mums and dads so they know what they can do to support their child’s language?

Find out more… (click to open)

  1. Communication Trust – aims to highlight the importance of speech, language and communication across the children’s workforce and to enable practitioners to access the best training and expertise to support the communication needs of all children.
  2. Book Trust - is a national charity encouraging the spread of literacy through reading. Administers the Bookstart scheme.
  3. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists - the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK; providing leadership and setting professional standards.
  4. I CAN - I CAN are experts in helping children with communication difficulties and unlocking their potential and supporting early communication and language. Visit their website to download a range of resources, training courses and find out more about I Can’s Early Talk programme.
  5. Talk to Your Baby - From the National Literacy Trust, with information for parents and practitioners on improving literacy in the early years.
  6. Elkan - Elklan aims to improve the interaction and communication skills of children and young people by training those who live and work with them.
  7. Family and Parenting Institute, Early Home Learning Matters (EHLM) – EHLM brings together the evidence about the vital role played by parents in securing good outcomes for children, and provides practical information about how to plan and implement effective services to involve parents in their children’s learning from birth to age 5.
  8. PEEP - PEEP-trained practitioners work with parents and carers to support their babies’ and children’s development and improve their life chances, by making the most of everyday learning opportunities
  9. Makaton - with Makaton, signs or symbols are used with speech in spoken word order. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear.


Add a comment

Comments (7)

  1. Elsa L. Tsae, November 24, 2011
    I believe that Language is cultural, so it is not easy at all times to have parents who can assist in helping to develop children's language as a prescription for better education, because those parents will not have an idea of the lanuage spoken at school. E.g In a country where school language is differnt from home language. Maybe English being their 3rd language or so.
    • 4Children Early Years Team, November 24, 2011
      Hi Elsa, you're right that it can be more difficult for parents who do not speak English to develop children's learning at home - but with the right support from the classroom and the community anything is possible!
  2. Nat, February 28, 2012
    Practioners shouldn't be encouraging parents to develop the child's learning at home in english. It should always be in the native language at home and children will pick up english in the setting/any contact with an english speaker.
    • jane, March 8, 2012
      This is definitely the right way to go.I have had lots of children with English as a second language,only one parent didnt follow these rules and this child was so confused.The others who spoke thier own language at all times and left the other settings to deliver the English and became fluent in both languages before going to school .It is fantastic to see .
    • EAL parent and practioner, February 22, 2013
      This page is so descriptive of the early years workforce around,,,some get it some dont. Sad to see the comments from 4Children and their poor views. I am fluent in 4 languages , english being the 4th, I refuse to speak to my child in english at home just to make life easier for busy bees nursery staff in my area who do not communicate with my child as in their view"does not understand english". These worker bring shame to early years world and the inclusive ethos.
      • 4Children Early Years Team, February 26, 2013
        Hi there - sorry you think the 4Children view is poor. Could you expand on what was wrong in what we said?
      • Lisa, March 29, 2013
        I think you have misunderstood 4Children were agreeing that parents should speak their own language at home (not English) as you presume. Anyone trained in early years should know the importance of children learning their own language at home and English in the setting.

Add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.