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Children learn to talk by hearing words repeated to them over and over again.
Typically, children need to hear a new word many times and to understand it, before they are able to try to say the word themselves.

Understanding language can also be called ‘comprehension’ or ‘receptive language’.

To help your child to develop their early language skills (e.g. objects and action words) and to understand longer instructions, please see our handouts below.

We have resources for vocabulary pictures in our resources tab or alternatively you can click on the ‘find our early vocabulary pictures’ link:


Concepts are used to describe specific features such as location, size, order and quantity. Some examples of concepts that may appear in everyday life are: before / afterfirst / next / lastmore / lesstop / bottom. Concepts can be tricky for people to understand as they can mean different things depending on the context in which they are used. The handouts below contain advice for working on different concepts within everyday activities.


Understanding the language used in questions is important for children to understand. Children need to learn to understand ‘wh’ questions (e.g. who/what/where) as well as more complex questions e.g. ‘how are they feeling?’ and ‘how do you know?’

 The handouts below contain advice for working on different ‘wh’ questions and levels of questions (Blanks) within everyday activities.

Developing vocabulary in the classroom

Vocabulary is a store of words. To use this store you need to know what the words mean and how to use them.  Children gradually develop their knowledge and use of vocabulary.  Initially, vocabulary is concrete (real items that can be seen) with abstract words (such as names of feelings) developing later.


Difficulties with working memory can impact upon language and learning. This is because
information may not be stored for long enough in order for the child to be able to process what
they hear and to associate what they can see with the words heard.