Nuffield Early Language Intervention

Nuffield Early Language Intervention

What is the Nuffield Early Language Intervention?

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is a 20-week programme proven to help young children overcome language difficulties. It is designed for children aged 4-5 years and combines small group work with one-to-one sessions delivered by trained teaching assistants, targeting vocabulary, narrative skills, active listening and phonological awareness. Developed by a team led by Maggie Snowling and Charles Hulme, the intervention has been evaluated in robust trials funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation. These have found it to be effective for improving children’s oral language skills as well as promoting longer-term progress in reading comprehension.

  • The Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) is designed to improve the spoken language ability of children in reception classrooms.
  • It is targeted at children with relatively poor spoken language skills.
  • Teaching Assistants are trained in how to develop children’s language skills.
  • Clear lesson plans are provided to save preparation time.
  • Materials for children are bright and accessible.
  • Three 30-minute sessions per week are delivered to groups of five children during the Spring and Summer terms (20 weeks).
  • Children also attend an additional two 15-minute individual sessions per week.
  • All sessions focus on listening, narrative and vocabulary skills.
  • Work on phonological awareness is introduced in the final ten weeks.

Training available

Training for TAs - Part 1 Training for TAs - Part 2

SaLTs and EY teaching advisors


Training for SaLTs and EY teaching advisors

Coming soon! Please register your interest

EEF trial key facts

  • NELI has been robustly evaluated through a randomised control trial between June 2018 and November 2019.
  • The results provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of the NELI programme.
  • The trial involved 1,156 pupils in 193 schools.
  • NELI children made an average of 3 ADDITIONAL months’ progress in language.
  • This result has a very high security rating: 5 out of 5 on the EEF padlock scale.
  • The cost of NELI is £58 per child (where the progamme is used over 3 years with 5 children per year).


Teacher feedback

“A worthwhile programme that has supported some of our most needy children to develop their language and communication.”
“The programme was a good resource that was perfectly aimed for the children in our setting.”

TA feedback

“We have loved using it and the difference it has made to the children is unbelievable. They have taken everything on board and now the children won’t be quiet! They love talking about everything and are so confident!”
“I have seen a significant improvement in the children I have worked with. Their narrative skills from entry to now are almost unbelievable. One of the children in particular could barely utter a word in English and now is fluent with very impressive language skills, lots of staff have noticed this and are amazed at her progress, this in turn has brought her confidence on massively. The programme has definitely brought on all of the children's confidence, language and communication skills.”


EEF Preparing Literacy Guidance 2018

Download the PDF brochure produced by Oxford University Press for more info.


More information about NELI:

EEF Preparing Literacy Guidance 2018

NEW: EEF Evaluation Report May 2020

Download the PDF
EEF Preparing Literacy Guidance 2018

NEW: EEF Executive Summary May 2020

Download the PDF
EEF Preparing Literacy Guidance 2018

NEW: EEF Reseach Summary May 2020

Download the PDF
EEF Preparing Literacy Guidance 2018

EEF: Preparing for Literary Guidance Report 2018

Download the PDF

NELI is specifically mentioned on p. 23!

Find out more

To find out more about the Nuffield Early Language Intervention and how it can benefit your school, please contact:

Oxford University Press
(01536) 452620