Within the Early Years Foundation Stage English is represented by Communication, Language and Literacy. Communication and Language is a prime area of learning and incudes listening and attention, understanding and speaking. Literacy is a specific area of learning and includes reading and writing.
Listening and attention: This area starts with listening and reacting to a range of sounds including environmental sounds and music. Reactions can include smiling or moving. Later on children will enjoy stories and rhymes and start to anticipate repeated events. Concentration develops initially to an activity of choice usually single channelled and then develops onto more than one activity at once.
Understanding: Children will start to respond to things like their own name and respond to contextual clues such as familiar gestures and words. They will begin to show understanding of single words such as 'cup' or 'milk', then sentences and finally onto more abstract concepts such as the use of objects, questions and prepositions. Understanding can develop and be shown through the use of symbols and pictures.
Speaking: Speaking starts with children communicating their needs in a variety of ways, including crying, gurgling and babbling. They will move through using sounds, single words, copying familiar expressions (such as 'oh dear' and 'all gone') and then gradually put more and more words together. Some children will need symbols and pictures to support their communication. Talk will gradually mature through talking about people who aren't present, using more complex sentences and using language to share feelings and experiences.
Reading: Reading will start with looking at familiar books, firstly with familiar people, and then alone, showing an interest in the pictures. They will choose favourite stories, rhymes and songs. Children will then insert a missing word into a familiar phrase and show awareness of rhyme and alliteration. Developing phonic awareness will allow them to begin to read words and sentences. Reading will also involve an understanding of how stories are structured and retrieving information from books.
Writing: Early mark making is a sensory and physical experience. They will start to make marks and then distinguish between what the marks mean. Phonic awareness starts in listening to and identifying sounds and moves into an awareness of letters. As children develop they will start writing clear identifiable letters and then words, labels and captions.