• Language Intervention in the Early Years (LIVELY). This research project, funded by the Heather van der Lely Foundation, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of language interventions for children with language difficulties by randomly allocating schools to one of two groups:
    • Building Early Sentences Therapy (BEST) was developed by Newcastle University in partnership with speech and language therapists and has promising early signs of effectiveness.
  • An adapted version of The Derbyshire Language Scheme (A-DLS). DLS has been used widely for many years but has limited formal evaluation. The study used an adapted version of this scheme
  • Both interventions were found to be effective.
  • However, children who received BEST were able to generalise their ability to produce spoken utterances to ones they had not been taught.
  • BEST kick-starts language development and is an effective therapy for children with language difficulties in the early years.

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  • Building Early Sentences Therapy (BEST). BEST is a theoretically motivated early language intervention (Building Early Sentences Therapy - BEST), which has been developed through partnership between academics and practitioners. BEST is for children aged between 3;0 years and 6;0 years who have yet to consistently produce three phrase spoken sentences such as “the man is eating an apple”.
    • BEST has been successfully used in a busy Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service in community and school settings. BEST may be delivered in small groups or individually. The homework packs and progress chart are designed to be attractive and easily accessed by all families, even those with limited literacy skills.
    • The BEST approach is delivered in English. B-BEST (Bilingual BEST) in other minority ethnic languages is planned for the future, following further funding applications.
    • BEST includes structured descriptive assessments. These assessments allow the child’s progress to be compared with their own baseline prior to commencing the programme. This means that BEST may be used as a diagnostic therapy package and makes outcome measurement simple.
    • BEST is based on current linguistic theory and is child-led. The child does not have to provide responses immediately and can listen to learn language, joining in when they feel confident to do so. The use of toys and real objects make it accessible and fun for children and their families.
    • Download the manual, here.
    • Mirpuri adaptation
    • Sylheti Bangla adaptation
    • Polish adaptation
    • These have been developed by the LIVELY team and are now available (with homework booklets).
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Although not essential, it is useful to have validated outcome measures for any intervention or therapy. The LIVELY team, used the FOCUS in addition to language assessment results.

Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS © ) is a clinical tool designed to evaluate change in communicative-participation in preschool children. ‘Communicative participation’ is the child’s communication and interaction in “real world” situations at home, school, or in the community (Eadie et al., 2006).

The package is around £57.16 (99 Canadian Dollars for an Individual Licence - prices quoted as of 21/06/24) and more for teams. See the website for up-to-date costings.

For details on how the FOCUS was validated see the following Open Access paper:

Thomas-Stonell, N., Oddson, B., Robertson, B., & Rosenbaum, P. (2013). Validation of the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication under Six outcome measure. Dev Med Child Neurol, 55(6), 546-552. https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.12123

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