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New report highlights support measures to aid early language development

18/10/2017 Kelly

Teachers could be doing more to help young children who may be at risk of experiencing delays in their early language development.

This is according to a new report from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Public Health England, which was conducted by Newcastle University to determine which interventions have the greatest potential for boosting toddlers' language skills and reducing inequalities in outcomes.

Currently, between seven and 14 per cent of children struggle with language before school starts, a state of affairs that can undermine their reading and writing ability in the following years. This report called for better monitoring of children's progress at different stages of development to identify those that might be falling behind and offer them targeted, specialist support.

It was noted, for example, that children's gestures and body language, such as pointing, are key to their early language development, and that toddlers need to have command of between 50 and 100 words before they are able to start putting sentences together. This skill can be a better predictor of later abilities than the number of words used.

The research also showed that one of the best ways to improve early language development for students at risk of falling behind is to provide training for teachers in early years settings to help them deliver cost-effective, evidence-based interventions, as well as efforts to encourage positive interactions between parents and children before they get to nursery school.

The findings of this review will inform the creation of new guidance on early years literacy teaching, which is due to be published later this year.

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