Speed Up Language Learning

Speed Up Language Learning

An early and good language development makes it easier to learn to read and to do well in school and later education, and the language thus influences children’s life chances. Unfortunately, many children start in school with weak language skills, andhence they are already an important step behind their peers. Speed Up Language Learning is developed in an attempt to change this.

Time period:

2012 – 2015.

Target group:

3-6 years old children in daycare.

Number of participants:

Eight municipalities, 145 nurseries, 5.436 children.


Speed Up Language Learning is a learning pathway with games led by pedagogues that are designed with the intention of stimulating children’s language. The intervention includes a number of activities, such as memory games, singing songs and telling stories.

The pedagogues receive a list of playing activities and a description of, how they can be conducted. They also learn which learning goals the individual activity focuses on.

Pedagogues and children start and end every activity by singing a Danish song: “Så sætter vi Fart på Sproget” ("Now, we speed up the language). In the learning material there is a “learning ladder” with inspiration to differentiate each activity, so that children with both strong and weak language skills make the most of the activities.

An important purpose with Speed Up Language Learning is also to examine whether children’s achievements depend on, how many children the pedagogues play with at a time. The quality of the dialogue and the interactions between the adult and the children are a crucial factor in the intervention, and it is thus important to know if the size of the group of children has an influence on the children’s achievements in the intervention. Furthermore, it is studied whether it strengthens children more when the pedagogues work with a more “open” curriculum, in which the same learning goals are maintained, but in which the pedagogues are planning and conducting activities in their own way.

Speed Up Language Learning runs over 20 weeks and is tested in three variations:

  • Curriculum based activities in big groups. The pedagogues work in big groups with the Speed Up Language Learning-curriculum (two pedagogues with all the children, equaling around 20-22 children)
  • Curriculum based activities in small groups. The pedagogues work in small group with the Speed Up Language Learning-curriculum (one pedagogue with around five children).
  • Open curriculum based activities in small groups. Pedagogues choose their own activities, but based on the same learning goals as the other two variations   


The effects of Speed Up Language Learning are evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. The aim is to find out whether a focused language intervention in the nursery can strengthen the pedagogues’ work with improving children’s language acquisition.


The National Board of Social Services and Rambøll Management Consulting.  



Speed Up Language Learning increased the children’s language skills. With regard to children’s pre-writing skills, the children achieved a language development equaling 7.7 months of normal development during the six months. In other words, the children received 1.7 months – or 27 percent - of extra learning. There were no achievements concerning the children’s spoken language skills.

In the open curriculum, in which the pedagogues chose which activities they would use, the children had a greater benefit from the intervention. Their knowledge about rhymes and letters (the pre-writing skills) was increased with as much as 9.4 months - or 57 % - during the six months, Speed Up Language Learning ran. Children participating in this group also achieved extra with regard to spoken language skills. In this case, the children received 27 % of extra learning.

A particularly positive gain of the open curriculum-group was that the intervention in this particular case had just as positive effects for children of ethnic minority groups and for children from poorly educated families as for children from well-educated families.

The results also show that there are no specific characteristics with regard to, for instance, the pedagogues’ level of education, cooperation in the nursery, attitudes and motivation before the intervention that can explain why some children got more out of the intervention than others. This suggests that the intervention can be implemented in different nurseries with the same great results.


No publications in English yet.