Speaking and Listening



30-50 months

• Listens to others one to one or in small groups, whe nconversation interests them.

• Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.

• Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events andphrases in rhymes and stories.

• Focusing attention – still listen or do, but can shift own attention.

• Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused on own choice of activity).

40-60 months

• Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity.

• Two-channelled attention – can listen and do for short span.

Early Learning Goal

Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.


30-50 months

• Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’)

• Shows understanding of prepositions such as ‘under’, ‘on top’, ‘behind’ by carrying out an action or selecting correct picture.

• Responds to simple instructions, e.g. to get or put away an object.

• Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.

40-60 months

• Responds to instructions involving a two-part sequence.

Understands humour, e.g. nonsense rhymes, jokes.

• Able to follow a story without pictures or props.

• Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.

Early Learning Goal

Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.


30-50 months

• Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because).

• Can retell a simple past event in correct order (e.g. went down slide, hurt finger).

• Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences.

• Questions why things happen and gives explanations. Asks e.g. who, what, when, how.

• Uses a range of tenses (e.g. play, playing, will play, played).

• Uses intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make the meaning clear to others.

• Uses vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them.

• Builds up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences.

• Uses talk in pretending that objects stand for something else in play, e,g, ‘This box is my castle.’

40-60 month

• Extends vocabulary, especially by grouping and naming, exploring the meaning and sounds of new words.

• Uses language to imagine and recreate roles and experiences in play situations.

• Links statements and sticks to a main theme or intention.

• Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events.

• Introduces a story line or narrative into their play.

Early Learning Goal

Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Year 1-6

Pupils should be taught to:

    • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
    • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
    • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
    • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
    • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
    • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
    • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
    • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
    • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
    • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
    • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
    • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication