The University of Southampton

Language development

How you can help your child to expand and develop his or her communication in pre-school?
A child needs to learn how to listen.

Children need to continue to exercise and expand their listening in the following areas:

  • Auditory discrimination: Learning to listen to finer details of sounds and their differences.
  • Auditory memory: Learning to listen to language carrying increasing amounts of information without the need for repetition.
  • elizabeth-foundation-21Building listening stamina so a child can focus their listening attention for longer periods.
  • Knowing when to listen and when it’s ok not to: Including knowing to listen for the unexpected but important (e.g. a fire alarm). Remember sustained attention for long periods will be exhausting for a child with a cochlear implant as it requires more listening effort.
  • Listening for meaning both with and without visual clues/cues: Remember it will be harder without visual clues but it is an important skill for the child to develop.


Use everyday routines to embed and expand your child’s language:

Provide an environment where your child wants and needs to talk. Consider the following:preschool-class-activities-3-1565825

  • Make it fun! Play provides lots of language learning opportunities
  • Children learn best when they are emotionally happy and relaxed. It’s important to encourage and respond positively to the content of their attempts to communicate. In this way they will be happy to have a go and not fear failure
  • Encourage peer to peer interaction
  • Be aware of your child’s individual personality, strengths and needs


Helping your child to speak clearly comes after considerable listening experience and practice. Focus on listening and language development and through this you will be indirectly providing a good model of clear speech production. Once the child has developed the ability to discriminate speech sounds most children’s speech will mature naturally.

What if you have concerns that a child is not progressing with their listening or language?

  • Problems with the equipment need to be ruled out. Complete daily checks and use the ling-sounds to check the child is hearing well
  • Contact the implant centre for general or specific concerns about equipment or listening performance
  • We may need to rule out problems with the implant itself or its programming and check the child’s access to sound
  • Investigate an additional disability such as a specific language and communication disorder


Key concepts