Teacher identification of children at risk for language impairment in the first year of school Academic Article uri icon


  • While the first 3 years of formal schooling have obvious importance for the transition to literacy, it must be remembered that learning to read is a linguistically-based task that draws heavily on mastery of key oral-language skills such as phonemic and morphological awareness, vocabulary development, and early syntax. In order to support the transition to literacy, and because oral language competence is important in its own right, it is vital that early-years teachers are skilled at identifying children who may be at risk of oral language impairment. In this study, 15 teachers completed the Children's Communication Checklist (second edition) on children in their first year of school (n = 149), and ratings were compared with results of screening using the Clinical Examination of Language Fundamentals Screening Test (fourth edition). Teacher ratings showed poor sensitivity and specificity in identifying children whose oral language skills require further investigation. Results are discussed in the light of recommendations for teacher pre-service education, SLP advocacy for oral language competence as a life-long determinant of health, issues in screening during the early years of school, and implications for further research.

publication date

  • June 2010