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"Speak better to then learn to read" Workshops: a helping hand given to children by AsFoReL

Summary : The Coup de Pouce (A nudge in the right direction) LANGUAGE project is for children from 3-6 years old who's language is poorly structured and who have limited vocabulary and constructions. These children are at risk of failing to access written language later on. The workshops aim to provide children with dialogue sessions with an adult ("language facilitator") to support their access to understanding oral language which is essential in successfully learning to write when the time comes.

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  • Start date : 2003
  • Implementation site : France
  • Budget : 3150 €
  • Source and details on funding : Town halls, Community of Municipalities, General Councils, Education League


  • Association de Formation et de Recherche sur le Langage (AsFoReL)
  • CRDP de Lorraine, 99 rue de Metz
  • 54000 Nancy
  • Employees : 1
  • Volunteers : 0
  • Members : 52


Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  19/04/2015 00:00
Opinion of the Committee : High impact !
Solution(s) : Education
Country :  France, Grand Est
Stature of the programme :  National
Participant :  Association, ONG
  • Beneficiaries :  Pupil, students
  • Domain :  Education, Training

Reports collected as part of the RESOLIS programme « Taking Action together against dropping out of school » (2015)

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : Husianycia Magali , « "Speak better to then learn to read" Workshops: a helping hand given to children by AsFoReL », **Journal RESOLIS** (2015)

Background to the programme

This project is the result of observations and experiments since the 1970s, within the school environment, with children who are living in poverty. This theoretical research and requests from actors in the field have led to the establishment of a reproducible action. In the 1970s, Laurence Lentin has focussed his research on the learning processes of language that allow some children to approach learning to writing in CP without problem, while others fail. His linguistic work has shed light on the language features required to successfully access written language as well as the modes of adult-child language interaction which encourage understanding of these linguistic functions.
Coup de Pouce Language actions were first tested in Angers from 2003 to 2006. They were then rolled out across the territory.

Objectives of the programme

The general objectives of this project are the prevention of failure in school and illiteracy through an understanding of language which enables children to structure their thoughts and to approach academic learning successfully.

Implemented actions

Since 2007 this action has taken place every year in schools across fifteen cities in France as part of the extracurricular activities. The municipality designates a supervisor who will be responsible for the measures in the schools in the municipality.
These workshops offer children dialogue sessions with an adult to complete their language learning which begins within the family: the adult "language facilitator" suggests increasingly complex linguistic construction to the child that are adapted to the level of language development of each one. These linguistic propositions are located in the "zone of proximal development" to stimulate the progress of each child.
The "facilitator" interacts with the children in a one-to-one relationship for 2 to 3 sessions (10 to 20 minutes per child) per week and supports the parents in monitoring their child's learning of spoken language and their relationship to books.

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

Annually, about 500 children in the second and third years of nursery (followed over one or two years) benefit from the project at a national level. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation lead by AsFoReL, using the recorded sessions, shows precisely the children's progress in their language learning. We noticed that their behaviour at school improved (integration into the group, understanding in class, concentration and speaking more often in class) and that the parents, supported by the action of the partners, are increasingly involved. We also observed an improvement each year; in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009: of 307 children aged 4-5, in 5 cities, 60-65% of children have made progress in their language learning and a 77% increase in them speaking in class.

Original characteristics

- The link between research and the field: the workshops were designed using essential research on the acquisition of oral and written language, and experiments in the field conducted since the 1970s by Laurence Lentin and his colleagues. This project includes a day of initial training, both theoretical and practical, which is obligatory for the "language facilitator", then monitoring with on-site interventions and an assessment at the end of the year.
- Interactions between the facilitator and the child are individual (one adult with a child), to meet the specific linguistic needs of each child. They are based on illustrated books which are especially designed for this purpose in order to provide the children with structured language and to prepare them for writing on a frequent basis.
- The method of evaluation is from audio recordings and questionnaires completed at the end of the action by the teachers, "facilitators" and parents enable both the observation of the child's progress and the measurement of the language spoken by the "facilitator" to the child.

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

AsFoReL has developed several partnerships with projects/programs for academic success, CCAS, Community of Municipalities, the Teaching League, Federation of Secular Works


Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

- The municipalities are seeing their resources diminish and are sometimes called upon to make choices between several actions.
- The recruitment of facilitators (paid or volunteer) depends on the means and the involvement of the manager of the action. It is essential that facilitators promise to scrupulously respect the protocol of the action to ensure its effectiveness.
- The action requires the involvement of teachers in the choice of children, which is time consuming.
- Involving parents is not always easy. It's about supporting them to make them aware of the importance of daily exchanges with their child and regularly looking at books before learning to read and write.

Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :

- Analysis of the recordings 3 times a year, enables the regular adjustment of the methods of intervention by the facilitators.
- Facilitators offer parents the chance to participate in some workshops

Suggestions for future improvement :

The allocation of subsidies to AsFoReL, or our partners, to set up the project would enable the action to be extended to more children.

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

Relying on a proven scientific base, regular facilitator training, monitoring of actions and the evaluation of children's progress by AsFoReL and through questionnaires filled in by teachers, parents and facilitators, ensures that the action runs smoothly.
The action is all the more effective if the partnership between the different actors is strengthened. The role of supervisor for the action in the city is crucial.

Bibliographic references

- E. Canut (sous la direction de), Apprentissage du langage oral et accès à l’écrit : Travailler avec un chercheur dans l’école. Scéren, CRDP Amiens, 2006.
- E. Canut, F. Bruneseaux-Gauthier & M. Vertalier., Des albums pour apprendre à parler : les choisir, les utiliser en maternelle, Sceren, 2012
- E. Canut, N. Espinosa, M. Vertalier (éds.) Linguistique de l’acquisition du langage oral et écrit. Convergences entre les travaux fondateurs de Laurence Lentin et les problématiques actuelles, L’Harmattan, 2014.
- E. Canut & M. Vertalier, L’apprentissage du langage : une approche interactionnelle. Réflexions théoriques et pratiques de terrain. Mélanges offerts par ses collègues, ses élèves et ses amis en hommage à Laurence Lentin, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2009.
- L. Lentin, Apprendre à parler à l'enfant de moins de 6 ans, où ? quand ? comment ? E.S.F. 1972, 12e éd, 1997.
- L. Lentin, Comment apprendre à parler à l'enfant, E.S.F. 1973, 10e éd, 1996.
- L. Lentin, Apprendre à penser, parler, lire, écrire, E.S.F. 1998/2009
- L. Lentin et al, Du parler au lire, E.S.F., 1977.
- L. Lentin et al, Ces enfants qui veulent apprendre. L’accès au langage chez les enfants vivant dans la grande pauvreté, Ed. de L'Atelier / ATD Quart-Monde, 1995.

To know more

For more information, visit the website: www.asforel.org or contact AsFoReL assoasforel@yahoo.fr by email or by phone at 06 16 79 52 61.

See also the review L'Oral Language Acquisition and Writing (No. 16, 1986 No. 64-65, 2010).

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