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Strategies to support understanding of spoken language in the classroom (FS2/KS1)

Visual support

Seat the child in the front of the class where they can easily see visual teaching aids.

a visual timetable reading 'first' 'next' 'then' 'then' and finally'

Use a visual timetable.

Support spoken language with visual materials.

hands showing what is being described

Use signing or gesture.

Label the classroom environment for example, pens, sand.

Giving instructions

one big square next to one small square

Break language down into chunks.

numbers one, two, three

Give instructions one step at a time.

a group of circles that have been sorted in a line starting from small to big

Give instructions in chronological order.

speech bubble with arrows pointing to paper

Repeat key instructions.


Speak at a slower rate than normal to allow the child to process what has been said.

Person kneeling down

Get down to the child’s level when you are talking or playing with them.

Comprehension monitoring

Smiling face with a speech bubble containing a thumbs up

Praise the child when they do something well:

  • “Good sharing”
  • “Well done for tidying up”
blue tick

Check back with the child that they have understood what they are meant to be doing by asking open ended questions. For example: “What do you need to do?”

Green box with two symbols inside meaning 'I understand'

Use symbols for all children to use. For example:

  • green for “I understand”
  • orange for “I’m not sure”
  • and red for “I don’t understand”

Additional resources and information

Information for professionals on how to support children’s speaking and understanding: 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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