The importance of spoken language and the impact of poor language skills

"Children and young people themselves recognise the importance of having good communication skills: for living; for growing; for achieving; for socialising"
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Good language at age five correlates with academic attainment, mental health in later years, social interaction and relationship building and employment outcomes.



Language is a fundamental skill to ensure successful learning

See our I CAN Talk papers for further information about SLCN in children and young people at:

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The impact of poor spoken language

Children with poor language skills struggle across many areas. The impact of having poor spoken language affects educational outcomes, social relationships, employability and places young people at risk of poor mental health and offending.


“Good communication is one of the most important skills anyone could have.”

“We need communication skills to get jobs, interviews, for later life.”

“If you have good communication skills, socially it gives you more confidence.”

“We need communication skills to control things and get things done.”

“You need to be able to communicate to get what you want... in a good way.”

“If you can’t express your views then you don’t get listened to.”


This video clip from the Communication Trust starts with children explaining why they feel communication skills are important.


  • Want to find out more?

    • Hear from young people themselves about the impact of speech, language and communication difficulties on learning to read in this short video from the RADLD.
    • Students in this video explain the impact their difficulties with spoken language have on their everyday life.
    • Professor Pamela Snow is an expert in the field of language literacy and links to behaviour and mental health. She explains the strong links between spoken language ability and behaviour in this short blog post.
    • This video explains the relationship between language and mental health.
    • Read I CAN’s factsheet on the relationship between poor language skills and mental health.
    • See summaries from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) on links between mental health outcomes and spoken language skills here and here.

SLCN and mental health

What is the relationship between poor language and mental health?

Here is I CAN’s factsheet on this topic. See summaries from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapist here and here.

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