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Higher level strategies to develop spoken language in the classroom


Extra time

Allow the child extra time to formulate responses and respond.


Slow down

Slow down your own rate of speech to encourage the child to speak more slowly.

Two eyes

Visual support

Ensure visual materials are available to make the context of discussion more concrete.

Arrow pointing down to yellow sun on blue background

Here and now

Try to relate things to the ‘here and now’ and the child’s own experiences. Language skills often improve when the child is talking about something that relates to them.

arrow showing a small object being made longer


Extend sentences for example:

  • if a child says: “ears hear”, you say: “yes, we hear with our ears”
  • if a child says: “heart pumps blood”, you say: “yes, the heart pumps blood around our body”
green tick


Remodel sentences that include errors for example:

If a child says: “yesterday my friends camed over”
You say: “yesterday your friends came over”

arrow pointing to end of a line to show finishing or complete

Sentence completion

Start the sentence for the child to finish, for example:

“Teeth decay if… old food sticks to them”

A number line with arrows pointing to one and two to suggest a sequence


Encourage clear sequencing of ideas by repeating back part of the story for example:

“so you went to the beach, but it was raining and then…?”

large object being made shorter

Reduce sentence length

Use short sentences

speech bubble arrows pointing down from the bubble to the ground


Repeat both your own sentences and new vocabulary as well as repeating the child’s grammatically correct sentences.

hand writing on paper with pen

Top tip – writing

Don’t expect a child to write a longer sentence than they would say, for example, if they don’t say “because” when explaining they are unlikely to use it in written work

Additional resources and information

A SWAY training module on Strategies for supporting children’s spoken language. Presented by Alice Woods (Speech and Language Therapist).

Tools and training for teachers. All to help children facing different challenges with talking and understanding words: Speech and Language UK

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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