Every Child a Talker (ECAT)

Strategies and Resources

Speech, language and communication strategies

Make sure children are looking at you before you give out instructions. It helps to signal instructions in some way by saying a rhyme, using actions or a catch phrase.  Click the link to see the full instructions guidance:

Or pole bridging is a term used for the running commentary that accompanies a child's play. Practitioners provide children with vocabulary within a meaningful context.  Click the link to see more information about how commentary can be used to support children's speech, language and communication:

Modelling children’s language allows practitioners to correct any grammatical errors that children may make in a positive way. Click the link for guidance on modelling language for young children:

Children often need lengthy periods of time to consolidate their understanding and create a response to language. Click the link for guidance on using a pausing strategy in your setting to support language development:

By repeating what a child has said but adding extra vocabulary to a sentence, children’s language can be developed and supported. Click the link for guidance on how to use an expanding strategy in your setting:

This can be used to reflect on adult-child interactions that support children's speech, language and communication. This can be completed by a colleague who has observed your interactions with a child or as a reflective tool for you to use:

Supporting communication in the environment

The Communication Chain

Key messages and useful strategies to support Early Years practitioners with the development of various aspects of the Communication Chain and to support understanding of how the communication chain can be used.

Universally Speaking

The ages and stages of children’s communication development from birth to 5 years.

Universally Speaking - PDF


A chatterbox is a box which contains surprise items. They are put together to encourage children to talk and therefore develop their speech, language and communication skills. Children often want to talk about things that they have already had experiences about and know about therefore it is important to link the contents to children’s interests and previous experiences.

This enables children to make connections in their thinking and language skills by focussing on things that they already understand.

Listen and Learn

The activities contained below aim to support the development of various aspects of the Communication Chain

Playing and having fun in an adult supported and structured session can also be a good way for children to experience and practice skills essential for successful social interaction.

Dialogic Book Talk

What is dialogic book talk?

Whilst sharing a story, children often want to talk about things that they recognise, have already had experiences with and know about. Dialogic book talk is a strategy used to allow children to make connections in their thinking and language skills when sharing books by spending time on one page discussing the words or pictures and connecting them to their own lives.

How does it work?

Dialogic book talk is a group activity in which adults and children together develop shared understanding of a book through talk. Ask open-ended questions while reading to children as a way to prompt them to talk about the pictures in the book. Rather than specific “what” questions, also use more general queries that will require the child to answer with more than one word (especially yes and no).

Improving Language Skills through dialogic book talk

It is also helpful to repeat what the child has said and expand their response e.g. Child, “I can see a tree”. Adult, “I can see a tall tree”. This is a great way to encourage and praise children, while introducing new vocabulary.

Opening a book to a random page and reading the illustration offers another literacy tool. Ask what is happening in the illustration. Children can build their own stories with an imaginative look at what they think is happening on the page.

Dialogical book downloads and process example