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Communication and Language in the new EYFS framework

EYFS framework communication and language

If you work in early years education, you have no doubt heard there are changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. The changes come into play on 1st September 2021.

Many things in the new framework are consistent with the old, but there are also key areas of change necessary for practitioners to be aware of.

In this article, we explore the communication and language changes in the new EYFS framework. We also provide some ideas of how you can implement these changes effectively in your early years setting. 


What is the EYFS framework (2021)?


Firstly – let’s cover the basics. What is the EYFS framework?

The EYFS framework sets the standards for learning and development in early years education and applies to all Ofsted-registered early years providers in England. The settings covered by the framework include nurseries, child-minders, pre-schools and reception classes.

The EYFS framework aims to highlight goals that ensure that all children develop well and are kept healthy and safe. The framework supports an integrated approach to early learning and care. It provides a set of common principles for delivering quality early education and childcare experiences to all children.

Why is the EYFS framework being changed? 


The EYFS framework is being changed to improve outcomes for children between ages 0 – 5 years old. The changes are being introduced to ensure the progress of all children, particularly disadvantaged children, and brings a particular focus on the areas of language and literacy.

The new framework intends to make early years learning goals clearer and more specific. By having more explicit and more specific goals – the theory is that these will be easier to assess.


What are the changes to the EYFS framework (2021)?


The changes to the EYFS framework will need to be fully implemented by 1st September 2021. The DfE has published an in-depth time frame of what’s expected from settings and practitioners. 

The changes focus on the areas of:

  • Safeguarding
  • Early Learning Goals (ELGs)
  • Assessment
  • Development Matters

The changes cover physical development, social and emotional development, mathematics and art and design, but the most significant change is the focus on communication and language, and literacy. This focus on strengthening language and vocabulary development is to particularly support disadvantaged children.

The new framework highlights the importance of speaking and listening skills along with pre-reception literacy and forms links between language comprehension and reading and writing. 


What are the Early Learning Goals (ELGs)?


In the framework, the ELGs have been made more explicit and more specific – helping practitioners make accurate judgements and incorporate the latest evidence in childhood development.

The seven areas of learning and development (communication and language, physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, expressive arts and design) keep the same headings. Still, the depth within each of them is greater. Each ELG also now contains more examples of how to support children. 


In addition:

  • Communication and Language the new framework only has two goals instead of three (Listening, Attention, and Understanding is one; Speaking is the other). It also includes more focus on adult-child interactions.
  • Physical Development includes a more significant focus on the link between gross and fine motor skills.
  • Physical, Social, and Emotional Development includes additional requirements on self-care and healthy eating.
  • Literacy includes a stronger emphasis on pre-reception literacy learning and also the link between language comprehension and later reading and writing.
  • Mathematics focuses on the importance of shapes, spatial reasoning, and measures, with greater clarity on counting and comparing quantities.
  • Understanding the World now clarifies the expectation of children understanding the concept of ‘past’.
  • Expressive Arts and Design includes a wider variety of ways children can develop their creative skills and includes different materials and techniques that could be used.


Communication and language in early years


The EYFS Statutory Framework presents many opportunities for practitioners to develop skills in the way they support progress in communication and language. For example, the high status of spoken language in the framework sees talking underpinning all seven areas of learning and development – indicating how big a priority spoken language is. 

The importance of modelled language is highlighted in the new framework, along with an emphasis on introducing new vocabulary, the interaction between children and adults and children and their peers, and speaking in sequenced sentences when telling stories.

Scaffolded Talk


Along with several easily accessible methods that support interaction and conversation, the skill of linking modelled language and oral rehearsal to introduce new vocabulary in a simple, effective way is demonstrated with the ‘Scaffolded Talk’ technique.

Scaffolded Talk is a powerful method every early years practitioner can make an impact with straight away. It is based on leaving gaps so children can complete and join in with sentences with single words. It has been proven to be very effective, especially when the practitioner varies the words they say and the sentences they use. 

Even before children join in, as they might with a rhyme, traditional tale or familiar refrain, they are already listening to and anticipating the language the adult uses. The strength of ‘scaffolded talk’ is that guided by practitioners, children reach the point of beginning to use a new word confidently and naturally.


Embedding communication and language in your EYFS setting


To enable these changes to be implemented easily, it’s worth looking for tools that are already helping teachers achieve a focus in these areas. For example, Chatta is an approach that supports teaching and learning with a focus on communication and language. 

The method is simple and effective and is easy to use in nurseries and early years settings. The key strengths of the approach are that it is based on experiences children have, and it turns them into stories linking pictures, modelled language, oral rehearsal, interaction and introducing and applying new vocabulary.

The approach is designed to give children the best start in life by ensuring they speak in fluent sentences and command a wide vocabulary by the age of 5. It has also been proven to help the progress of disadvantaged pupils. 

A pre-Covid study in Hull with 500 children saw the percentage of children aged 5 achieving age-related expectations in speaking increase from 49% to 83% following the introduction of the Chatta teaching approach.

The method is based on proven research on how children learn and includes techniques related to Cognitive Load Theory (not overloading working memory), Dual Coding Theory (linking pictures and words) and Retrieval Practice (revisiting learning experiences), along with extensive research on how children learn to speak and turn thoughts into words, incorporating several theories and ideas including those of Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner.

The table below outlines how Chatta is a perfect fit for early years practitioners, helping practitioners get ahead of September’s coming changes.


Chatta EYFS Framework 2021


Using this approach is very simple. Photographs of any activity are combined in a digital storyboard (smartphone/tablet/laptop), allowing practitioners to create stories, introduce language and enables children to tell their own stories. The photos are taken of activities from a ‘child’s eye view’, and Chatta’s simple method allows practitioners to line experiences and images with modelled language, new vocabulary and oral participation from the children and a way that incorporates interaction and speaking in sequenced sentences.


Training for the communication and language changes


Learn more about communication and language in the new EYFS framework and how Chatta can help you achieve the new goals with Chatta’s free online training for early years practitioners. Tickets are limited, so book now to reserve your seat through our Eventbrite page. 

A free 45-minute online training session for school and nursery EYFS leaders is available on request for Local Authority Early Years Advisors and Multi-Academy Trust Early Years directors. 

The training is led by Chatta’s founder, Chris Williams, who has extensive experience working with early years practitioners across the UK and overseas.  

The session provides a clear overview and practical ideas and ways forward in the following areas:

  • Modelled Language in EYFS
  • Introducing and Applying New Vocabulary
  • Supporting Natural Interactions and Conversations
  • Scaffolded Talk and Guided Talk
  • Progression from Words to Sentences to Stories
  • Working with Families

To find out more and to arrange your free ‘Communication and Language in the New Early Years Foundation Stage Framework 2021’ session, please contact the Chatta team by email: [email protected] or call: 0845 003 0896

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