Theory into Practice

Children's Storybooks

Key Word Level principles 

  • The Teddy Talk Test provides a targeted way to assess a child's speech and language skills by observing how they respond during a structured play based activity. 


  • The receptive and expressive language elements of the Teddy Talk Test are based on the widely used principles of the Derbyshire Language Scheme (DLS) (Madislover, M and Knowles, W 1982). ​

  • The adult's instructions are constructed to reflect an increasing number of "information carrying words" (also known as 'key words') that a child needs to understand, in order to carry out the instruction without the help of contextual clues.

  • By noting the level at which the child starts to have difficulty and comparing this with information regarding what to expect at different ages and stages, conclusions can be drawn as to whether or not a child needs support to develop his/her skills in understanding spoken language.

  • Where the child is using (or attempting to use) words during the Teddy Talk Test, conclusions can also be drawn as to the average 'word level' achieved.

  • Speech sound development is also considered in detail.

  • The Teddy Talk Test 'Ages and Stages' are based on well evidenced and researched publications including the  'Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum' (DfE 2014), 'Development Matters' (Early Education 2012), 'What to expect when?' ( and the 'Every Child a Talker' (ECAT) monitoring tool.