Targeted support for pupils with poor language skills

Research shows that children with poor language skills benefit from effective, targeted support. Evaluations of targeted language programmes have shown that:

Children aged 4-7 years made on average between 9 and 18 months progress in their spoken language skills following a ten week intervention.

Children aged 4-7 years made on average between 9 and 18 months progress in their spoken language skills following a ten week intervention.

Children aged 4-7 years made on average between 9 and 18 months progress in their spoken language skills following a ten week intervention.

Children aged 4-7 made on average between 9 and 18 months progress in their spoken language following a ten week intervention.

Watch this video of a targeted language session being run

  • Children aged 7-10 made significant progress in language and communication, with 67% catching up with their peers in understanding language following Talk Boost KS2, an 8-week targeted intervention. These video clips show a targeted approach to learning new words and ways to teach clarification strategies
  • Younger children supported by Early Talk Boost, an intervention aimed at 3-4 year old children with delayed language, made on average six months’ progress after the nine-week intervention.
Watch Early Talk Boost in practice here

In addition to targeted interventions such as these, adaptations to the classroom and teaching will be necessary. These could include:

  • Use of simplified language and chunking of information by adults
  • Visual prompts to support independent work as well as comprehension
  • Staff who check for understanding and encourage pupils to seek more information
  • Extra time given to specific pupils if needed to complete work

Read these example case studies demonstrating support for Primary and Secondary aged pupils with delayed language.

There is a requirement for all staff to support the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). So, these adaptations should be part of everyday practice in the classroom.

Want to read more?

There is evidence to indicate that education staff putting targeted support in place for children with poor spoken language can be effective. However, staff need sufficient training and coaching to develop their skills in delivering language interventions. This paper sets out the issues.

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