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Communication and Language


   Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations, and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves  . 


  In the Early Years Foundation Stage, Communication and Language is broken down into three aspects:

  • Listening and attention
  • Understanding
  • Speaking 




The importance of these three aspects has been established from the Every Child a Talker (ECAT) programme. By focusing on listening and attention, and separating receptive language (understanding) from expressive language (speaking), practitioners can gain a better understanding of how language develops, how to support the process, and how to identify children who could be at risk from language delay.

  •  Listening and attention – children tuning in to what they can hear and listening carefully. This is how children learn to distinguish between different sounds as a build up to learning how to read and write.
  • Speaking – how children use words to express their needs, ideas and feelings and as a way of sharing what they are thinking with other people. Children need lots of opportunities to talk before they will be ready to communicate through writing.
  •  Understanding – how children make sense of spoken language, starting with simple short sentences and building up to more complex questions and sentences. 


Communication and Language in Foundation Stage

The relationship between Communication and Language and the other prime

areas of learning


‘Communication and Language supports Personal, Social and Emotional Development because a child who can communicate feelings, needs and ideas develops a strong sense of self and is increasingly able to relate to others in rewarding and appropriate ways. It supports Physical Development through description of actions which increase conscious control and through talk about health and the factors which influence this.’

[Tickell Review of the EYFS, 2011]


Listening and attention Early Learning Goal 40 – 60 months - Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity. 

Understanding Early Learning Goal 40 – 60 months - Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events

Speaking Early Learning Goal 40 – 60 months - Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.