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Speaking and listening

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Speaking and listening are building blocks of literacy. Also known collectively as oracy, they are key areas of research that are often neglected in the literacy space. In addition to the skills and attitudes of children and young people we have explored how technology and media impact on these disciplines.

We also know that talk in the home learning environment is crucial in developing children's school readiness. Find out more.

Key statistics on speaking and listening

  • In 2022, nearly 2 in 5 (37.5%) children and young people said they enjoyed listening to audio either very much or quite a lot. This is lower than 2021, when 43% said that they enjoyed listening. Find out more.
  • More than 9 out of 10 children enjoyed hearing stories read to them in 2021. Find out more.
  • Nearly 2 in 3 (63.9%) young people felt in 2020 that they need good speaking and listening skills to achieve their aspirations. Find out more.

COVID-19 and speaking and listening

School closures had a marked impact on children and young people's interaction with podcasts and audiobooks, with nearly 1 in 4 (23.7%) children and young people said they listened to podcasts or audiobooks more during lockdown than they did before. Find out more.

Many children and young people, when in lockdown, also took to video games as a means of communicating with their friends when face-to-face contact was unavailable. 3 in 5 (58.4%) children and young people said that they talked to or messaged friends more while playing video games in early 2021. Find out more.

Our latest research into speaking and listening

What else we know about speaking and listening

  • Boys who do not enjoy reading are more likely to say they enjoy listening to audio (46.6%) than girls who do not enjoy reading (37.8%). Find out more.
  • More parents aged 34 and under said that they played, sung, looked at the alphabet, painted, and played outside at least once a day in the last week compared with parents aged 35 and over. Find out more.
  • Over 60% of young people in youth justice system have difficulties with speech, language or communication. Find out more.
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