Years 7+ Understanding of Language

What is it?

Students must learn to understand the language that they hear before they can use this language to communicate with others. A student’s understanding will usually be ahead of their ability to use spoken language.

As students grow and develop, the range of words that they understand will increase and they will be able to follow longer and more grammatically complex sentences.

What to expect?

In Years 7 and above, students will usually:

  • Confidently follow classroom instructions and discussions.
  • Confidently answer a full range of questions.
  • Understand curriculum related concepts and easily learn new vocabulary.
  • Understand abstract language e.g. humour, metaphors, idioms.

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Gaining the Student’s attention before you speak.
  • Keeping language simple and emphasising key words using visuals when necessary.
  • Breaking down instructions into shorter, more manageable chunks. Avoid presenting too much information all at the same time.
  • Giving the student more time to respond (up to 10 seconds) and pausing between each step of an instruction to give the student time to process what you have said.
  • Repeating instructions/questions once;  if the student still doesn’t understand simplify the instructions or give additional support with visuals.
  • Repeating whole class instructions directly to the student and checking that they have understood what they need to do e.g. Asking specific questions about what they need to do. NB: students will often just say ‘yes’ when asked if they understand.
  • Pre-teaching, overlearning and revising key topic vocabulary and concepts- please see resources for more details.
  • Providing a task planner- please see resources for an example.
  • Encouraging the student’s attempts to seek clarification, using visual supports when necessary.
  • Encouraging the student to use strategies to help them process the language they have heard, such as repeating back or identifying the important words in an instruction.

Watch our video on understanding words, sentences and beyond.