How can professionals support children's speaking and understanding?

Speaking and understanding skills are vital for all children. Without these skills they will not reach their full potential.

Professionals who work with children are key to identifying when they are having difficulties speaking and understanding. This includes early years practitioners, teachers and health visitors. Across the UK, one in ten children are struggling to speak and understand language right now - this increases to one in four for those children living in disadvantaged areas of the UK. It's therefore essential that you understand how to identify and better support these children.

If you have concerns about a child’s speaking and understanding, you should use the I CAN Progress Checker, and talk to the parents or carers to decide how you can best support the child to develop these skills. Our series of factsheets list useful techniques to use on a daily basis with pre-school and school-aged children.


  • English as an Additional Language info

    Many parents question how to support their child's language development if they speak English as an Additional Language (EAL). You can offer the following advice.

    What matters most is to provide your child with a good language model so use the language that you feel most comfortable with.

    If your child has difficulties in learning both their first language and English, then it may be that they have a speech, language or communication need.

    To help your child, you could find a community group for your child to join. These groups may be in his/her first language or English but may be useful in supporting communication and social development as well as his school work.

    If your child would benefit from some additional support in the local community or at school, one way to help is by finding them a mentor. A mentor is a trusted adult that speaks his/her first language, can help him/her with learning English and can be another shoulder to lean on. There are organisations that can help to find a mentor. Asking your child’s school or local community organisations is one way you can reach out.

Professionals FAQs

Do you know the key facts about speaking and understanding needs? Our series of factsheets for professionals contains information and advice for supporting these needs in schools and settings. 

Find out more



Information on developmental language disorder

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a term that is used to describe difficulties with learning and using language which will be long term, but that are not associated with other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, or autistic spectrum disorders. 

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Our team of speech and language therapists have written a selection of handouts with information, suggestions and tips for supporting children’s speaking and understanding development.

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