IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Empowering staff to enhance oral language in the early years

A research project to understand what improves language and social outcomes for children in nursery classes.

The project aims to support children’s oral language in nursery classes. Children’s oral language skills are important for developing friendships and learning in school. These early language skills support learning in primary schools, particularly reading and writing abilities.

'Talking Time'

We are evaluating the impact of 'Talking Time', a package of activities and games that supports teachers to talk with children to enhance speaking and listening. The results of this research will make an important contribution to understanding what works in improving language and social outcomes for children in the nursery classes.

Across London and the North East of England, schools in areas of social disadvantage are joining us in the study.

  • Evaluate whether "Talking Time" improves children’s oral language skills.
  • Contribute to the enhancement of professionals’ knowledge and understanding of language skills.
  • Understand how to improve the language-learning environment for children at school entry.
What are we doing?

Autumn 2021

  • Pre-test assessment of language and social development of all children - we will be observing the classroom language learning environment and assessing children.

January 2022

  • Half the schools will receive the "Talking Time" intervention with expert guidance - the other schools will continue with their current practice.

Spring 2022

  • Schools implement intervention.

Summer 2022

  • Post-test assessment of language and social development of all children - we will return to the schools to observe the language learning environment and track the children’s progress. 

September 2022

  • Preliminary findings released.
  • Professor Julie Dockrell (IOE) – Principal Investigator
  • Professor James Law (University of Newcastle) – Co-Investigator
  • Dr Sandra Mathers (University of Oxford) – Co-Investigator
  • Dr Jenna Charlton (University of Newcastle) - Research Associate
  • Dr Claire Forrest (IOE) – Research Associate
  • Keeley Dobinson (IOE) – Research Assistant
Useful links

Resources for practitioners

Resources for parents

Relevant research