Published on: 09 Nov 2015

We know that children and young people who struggle with their speech, language and communication can also struggle with literacy, learning, social and emotional development and behaviour

Language and Communication: It’s obvious, isn’t it?

It’s impossible to imagine a world without language and communication. From conversing with others, to understanding the world around us, to talking things through in our head, to problem solving, to reading, to writing, to making friends and building relationships...the list is endless. 

All of these everyday actions rely on language and communication skills. They’re skills that don’t develop by accident and we continue to develop them throughout our lifetimes.  When children are born, they need to be exposed to and interact with speech sounds, language and communication in order to develop their ability to understand and use sounds and words and to learn how to communicate with others.

As children grow up, their language and communication skills are expanded and refined through interactions with responsive adults and peers; they learn how to understand and process more complex information and unfamiliar vocabulary, how to debate, to explain, to argue a point, to express an opinion, to socialise, to describe an event, to answer questions, to rationalise their own and others’ feelings and behaviours; they learn more about the social nuances of language and communication, some of which can be very subtle! 

They learn and develop through the experiences they have and the language models they’re involved with; the opportunities they have to develop these skills are crucial to their wider development.

We know that children and young people who struggle with their speech, language and communication can also struggle with literacy, learning, social and emotional development and behaviour.

Language and communication are everywhere at school. Oral communication isn’t only about the formal skills we need when we present something, or make a speech. It’s the range of skills that all children and young people need to allow them to participate, achieve and enjoy life. They’re skills that need to be actively cultivated. And not just as part of a literacy lesson, or English, or drama, or to practice for a formal speaking event. They’re a part of every lesson: explaining and understanding the rules of a game in PE, debating viewpoints in history, discussing hypotheses in science. They’re just so obvious that it’s sometimes easy to forget about them and the central part they play. But you have a crucial role to help pupils develop these skills and there are many easy ways to include them in any lesson.

To learn more about how you can support the language and communication skills of all the pupils you work with, and identify pupils with speech, language and communication needs take a look at our resources

Shona Crichton, Professional Advisor, The Communication Trust
Follow The Communication Trust on Twitter at @Comm_nTrust

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