UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Low English skills at school start linked to behavioural difficulties

23 September 2016

Children who enter reception with poor English language skills – whether it’s their first language or an additional language – are more likely to have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in later years, finds a new study co-authored by Professor Courtenay Norbury in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, and Royal Holloway.

The study compared children speaking English as a second language with monolingual peers with comparable English language proficiency. Academic achievement was similar in reception, while those speaking English as an additional language displayed fewer emotional, social and behavioural difficulties, and were more likely to meet academic targets by Year 2.

The researchers say that children with poor English proficiency need extra support early on, so it’s imperative that teachers identify which children need that boost.

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  • Credit: Il Microfono on Flickr