This guide helps parents and carers understand how children progress in English in The National Curriculum. Also included are ideas for what you can do with your child to support the development of their speaking and listening, reading and writing at home and help them make progress. You will find this guide helpful when discussing your child’s progress with their teachers.
Within the National Curriculum, learning English is about learning to use language to express, explore and communicate our thoughts ideas and feelings with others. We do this through speaking, listening, reading and writing and getting better at English means making progress in each of these areas.
Children do not usually make progress at the same rate in speaking, listening, reading and writing. In their early years, for example, most children are better speakers and listeners than readers and writers. This is important as early skills with spoken language underpin the development of reading and writing. However, speaking, listening, reading and writing are closely interrelated. So, for example, effective speakers and writers take account of their listeners and readers because they are hoping to interest or influence them. Talking to your child is crucial in helping children to make progress in all aspects of English. Questioning, prompting, responding (whether the focus is on reading, writing, speaking or listening) are all important in helping your child to build on what they can already do. Here are a number of suggestions as to how you can help your child to make further progress at whatever stage of the curriculum they are working.
They all rely on talking with your child in a relaxed, informal way and making their language learning part of everyday life.
What you can do to help your child make progress
Speaking and listening
Ensure that: – they have plenty of opportunities for talk
– you listen to them with attention, and respond
– they hear and listen to sustained talk by others.
Encourage them to speak at length, by:
– helping them take a long turn in a conversation
– prompting them to help them keep going
– asking them to tell you about some event in detail or explain to you how
Help them understand how speakers help listeners, by:
– using repetition and different voices for different characters when telling a story
– encouraging them to think about how to organise what they want to say
– changing their pace.
Encourage them to notice and talk about:
– interesting/unusual words
– some of the different ways people speak.
Ensure they have:
– access to books, magazines and newspapers from home, school
– somewhere quiet to read
– time to read regularly
– opportunity to see you as a reader – reading, choosing books,
going to the library, talking about what you read.
Read to them and take turns with them in reading a section each of the text, supporting and prompting their reading in positive ways.
Talk with them about the books they read:
– their favourite part or character and your favourite part
– how the illustrations support the story
– their favourite author
– what makes a book different from (or similar to) others they have
Talk about the meaning of what they have read. Ask them, for example, to explain:
– how they know that X is the villain or Y the heroine
– why they like or dislike a particular character
– what will happen next
– and why they think so
– a character’s actions or motives
Ensure they have:
– opportunities to write at home
– pencils, pens, crayons, but also card or folded paper to make
– opportunities to see you as a writer, for example, writing emails
Read and talk about their writing:
– ask them to read their writing aloud to you
– respond to the writing and praise what you like
– ask them to explain why they wrote particular sections as they
Help them with planning their writing:
– ask them to talk through their ideas with you before they write
– prompt them to include more detail, sequence things more clearly,
vary the pace.
Help them to think about the person who will read their writing:
– do they want the reader to like the main character?
– should they include some clues about the ending?
– does the writing build up to a climax?
Working in English in Year 1
Speaking and listening
- talk about things they have done and imagined
- remember the main ideas in things they have heard
- take turns when speaking in pairs or groups
- change the way they speak in some situations, for example, talking to adults differently from friends or pretending to be other people.
- read a range of key words on sight and blend sounds to decode unfamiliar words
- recall basic information from texts read, for example, names of characters
- look for information in print and on a website and make simple inferences, for
example, how a character is feeling
- express simple likes and dislikes in their reading.
- have a clear purpose for their writing, for example, to tell a story, recount a visit, give
- use some features of the style they choose to write in, for example, ‘once upon a time’
in a story
- organise their ideas straightforwardly, for example, by grouping ideas together in
sections or sequencing events
- write mainly simple sentences, marking where they begin and end with full stops and
Working in English in Year 2
Speaking and listening
- start conversations and keep them going, building on what other people say
- contribute to a small group, recognising speakers’ main ideas
- adapt their speech and gesture to suit obviously different situations or create a role
- notice some differences in people’s spoken language.
- read aloud with fluency, expression and understanding
- use different ways to read unfamiliar words
- get the literal meaning from a text and make some straightforward inferences
- pick out the most obvious points from texts they read
- identify the main purpose of the text.
- write simple texts with a clear purpose using the main features of the type of writing they choose
- organise their ideas to help the reader, for example, by grouping ideas in sections, or signalling the beginning and ending of their writing
- use capital letters and full stops accurately to separate simple sentences
- attempt some more complex sentences using connectives, such as ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’
- start to enjoy writing independently and use it to support their learning in other subjects.