Hanen Learning Language and Loving It (LLLI)

Hanan LLLI is a training programme for nursery staff to promote opportunities for social, language and literacy learning in Early Years (EY) settings.
Primary school children and a teacher in a classroom
  • Authors:
    Jonah Bury
    Emily Kohli
    Berenice Scandone
    Alina Fletcher
  • Publishing date:
    29 April 2022

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) commissioned NatCen’s Centre for Children and Families to evaluate Learning Language and Loving It™ – The Hanen Program® for Early Childhood Educators (Hanen LLLI). 

About the study

Hanan LLLI is a training programme for nursery staff to promote opportunities for social, language and literacy learning in Early Years (EY) settings.

The delivery of Hanen LLLI was coordinated and provided by Communicate SLT CIC, a speech and language therapy services and training organisation based in the North West of England. The programme, along with the evaluation, was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and Department for Education as part of the Early Years Professional Development Funding Round.

The evaluation of Hanen LLLI took place between September 2019 and July 2021. Originally, the project was planned for the 2019/20 academic year as a randomised controlled efficacy trial, studying the impact of Hanen LLLI on 3-4 year old children’s language outcomes. However, due to COVID-19 disruptions, the trial was paused in March 2020 and resumed in the academic year 2020/21. Ongoing COVID-19 disruptions meant the training moved from in-person to online delivery, and the impact evaluation was cancelled in March 2021.

This report therefore focuses on findings from the implementation and process evaluation (IPE) carried out in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.

Aims of the study

The implementation and process evaluation aimed to answer the following key questions:

  • How is Hanen LLLI delivered, and what are the facilitators and barriers to delivery?
  • What are the perceived benefits of the programme for nursery staff, nurseries and children?
  • What are the implications of COVID-19 for delivery and perceived impacts?
  • What can be learnt for future delivery of Hanen LLLI?


  • Most workshops and video reflection sessions were delivered as intended and were very well received by nursery staff, with nearly all those surveyed (98%) reporting they had had a positive experience of Hanen LLLI.
  • Nursery staff reported key benefits of programme participation for their practice. All nursery staff surveyed had used Hanen LLLI strategies when interacting with children in their nursery and felt more confident implementing these over time.
  • Nursery staff noted that children benefited from exposure to Hanen LLLI-trained nursery staff. The vast majority of survey respondents agreed that children’s exposure to Hanen-trained staff had increased the amount of high-quality child–staff interactions (88%), child-initiated interactions (86%) and the frequency of children’s turn-taking interactions (86%).
  • The shift from in-person to remote delivery following COVID-19 disruptions brought key successes and challenges. Program Leaders were positive about ongoing support for online delivery. However, workshops were less successfully implemented online, with many of the practical workshop elements either removed or working less well than in-person.


The IPE synthesised the data collected through three main research methods:

  • Observations – of workshops and video-feedback sessions
  • Interviews – with nursery staff and Program Leaders
  • post-intervention survey – with nursery staff at treatment settings

Most IPE research activities were conducted as originally planned, but timings had to be shifted due to partial school closures. Some additional observations and interviews were included as part of the extension to help understand how delivery had changed and the impacts of COVID-19 and the two-year delivery period. We did not complete a post-intervention survey with control schools, or surveys of treatment and control nursery managers as planned.

Next steps

In early 2022, the EEF recommissioned NatCen’s Centre for Children and Families to carry out a randomised controlled efficacy trial of Hanen LLLI for the 2022/2023 academic year.