Toddlers' language development can predict later ability

October 12, 2017
Credit: Newcastle University

A team of researchers, led by Professor James Law from the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, looked at the existing evidence to find out which interventions have the greatest potential for boosting toddlers' language skills and reducing inequalities in outcomes. They also summarised the existing literature on language development.

The report, published this week, was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in partnership with Public Health England. 

According to the report:

  • 's gestures, such as pointing, are key to their early ;
  • toddlers need to be using between 50 and 100 words before they start putting words together, a skill that can be a better predictor of later abilities than the number of words used;
  • at some point between the ages of two and three, children typically start to produce longer, more complex sentences.

However, the most recent figures suggest that between 7-14% of children struggle with language before school starts. This can hold back their reading and writing ability later in school.

Importance of early years provision
The researchers identified a series of intervention studies which have had positive results on developing . They found one of the best ways to improve early language for this group is through training for teachers in early years settings so that they can deliver cost-effective and evidence based interventions to those children who have fallen behind.

In addition to high-quality early years provision, the researchers identify interactions with parents as key. They highlight at need to promote positive interaction between parents and their children before they get to nursery at 2-3 years.

The report also stresses the need for better monitoring of children's progress at different stages of their development, to catch those children falling behind and to identify those who need targeted, specialist support. 

James Law, Professor of Speech and Language Sciences, said: "Children's development is key to an individual's personal and educational development. Differences between those at the top and the bottom of the social scale have started to open up by the time children are aged two years, and these remain pronounced right through primary school and through into the workforce.

"Through these reports Public Health England has now identified this as one of its priorities and will be taking this forward to influence policy and practice over the next few years."

The evidence review will inform guidance on early years literacy teaching, due to be published later this year. 

Explore further: Study recommends three policies to improve children's language development

More information: Early Language Development: Needs, provision, and intervention for preschool children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds: educationendowmentfoundation.o … evelopment_final.pdf

Related Stories

Study recommends three policies to improve children's language development

August 31, 2017
Bilingual children from low-income homes are at greater risk of falling behind their peers in developing the appropriate language skills for their age group, leading to poorer academic achievement over time. A new article ...

Study suggests few developmental effects of television on five-year-old children

May 15, 2017
Researchers from Newcastle University and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, found that children who watch less than three hours of TV a day when they start in primary school are more likely to communicate their ideas ...

Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost

May 4, 2017
New research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting shows that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school.

Low-income children missing out on language learning both at home and at school

April 14, 2017
Children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to have complex language building opportunities both in home and at school, putting them at a disadvantage in their kindergarten year, finds a new study led by NYU Steinhardt ...

Early childhood educators hold the key to children's communication skills

November 6, 2013
Researchers at UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute have completed a new examination of peer-reviewed science that reveals how early childhood educators can ignite the growth of language and communication ...

Children with a communication disorder have poorer sleep, says study

February 7, 2017
Children with a communication disorder such as autism have poorer sleep, compounding the existing language issues that result from such conditions, according to a new study from City, University of London.

Recommended for you

Before assigning responsibility, our minds simulate alternative outcomes, study shows

October 17, 2017
How do people assign a cause to events they witness? Some philosophers have suggested that people determine responsibility for a particular outcome by imagining what would have happened if a suspected cause had not intervened.

Schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication system, researchers say

October 17, 2017
Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

For older adults, volunteering could improve brain function

October 17, 2017
Older adults worried about losing their cognitive functions could consider volunteering as a potential boost, according to a University of Missouri researcher. While volunteering and its associations with physical health ...

Magic mushrooms may 'reset' the brains of depressed patients

October 13, 2017
Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a 'reset' of their brain activity.

Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier

October 13, 2017
A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers' homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban ...

Scientists researching drugs that could improve brain function in people with schizophrenia

October 12, 2017
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are testing if drugs known as HDAC inhibitors improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia who have been treated with the antipsychotic drug clozapine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.