Spoken Language

Communication is the most important skill in life.

To understand and be understood is a basic human need, consequently speaking and listening form the foundations of learning in all areas of our curriculum. We nurture and develop these skills so that our children are capable of expressing their own ideas clearly and confidently. 

We encourage children to develop their pupil voice in both English and their home language. We share a range of diverse and cultural texts that reflect our school community. We develop children’s acquisition of language through NELI and Race to English interventions.    

Talk is valued highly at Cheam Fields as a vital tool for learning and takes many forms including:

  • Exploratory play

  • Partner talk and collaborative work 

  • Reciting and reading aloud

  • Performance Poetry

  • Re-telling, role-play and drama activities that enliven and enrich children’s understanding of character, such as hot seating

  • Listening to and participating in stories, poems, rhymes and songs

  • Orally rehearsing ideas for writing

Children are taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness of their communication across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. With opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class. We foster an understanding of how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates. Questioning is an integral part of our teaching and we encourage children to be inquisitive and to share their thoughts confidently in a supportive environment. 

Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that our children hear and share are key for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding of the written word. We ensure subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the wider curriculum through teacher modelling. Contextual learning supports the children to understand new words and encourages them to use them in their work. In shared reading sessions children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We always endeavour to model the correct grammar and expect children to do the same in their use of spoken and written language. 

This year we have been trialling the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI). This  is a 20-week programme proven to help young children overcome language difficulties. It is designed for children aged 4-5 years and combines small group work with one-to-one sessions delivered by trained teaching assistants, targeting vocabulary, narrative skills, active listening and phonological awareness. Developed by a team led by Maggie Snowling and Charles Hulme, the intervention has been evaluated in robust trials funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation. These have found it to be effective for improving children’s oral language skills as well as promoting longer-term progress in reading comprehension.