Speech Pathology News: Recasting to Support Grammar

Welcome back to term 3.

Over the break the Oral Language Team began to explore an approach for supporting grammar development called Shape Coding. This approach has been scientifically studied and is used by some language development schools in the UK.

Grammar is an area which children with Developmental Language Disorders find particularly challenging and consequently, it often becomes a focus of our in class oral language sessions. Shape Coding uses a combination of colours and shapes to show the grammar in a sentence. The visual cues used in Shape Coding have been found to have a positive impact on teaching grammar but are possibly not practical for supporting correct grammar at home.

However, recasting is a strategy which can be used easily at home and has been found to be very powerful for supporting grammar. Recasting involves repeating back something your child has said incorrectly with the error corrected. For example, your child might say “I maked my bed.” and you could say back “I made my bed.”

Recasting can be made more powerful by providing lots of repetitions of the correction after the error is made. Aim for 12 recasts in the minute following the error. In the above example you could say “I made my bed. I can see you made your bed. You made it really well. You made the bed with the sheets, you made it with your doona and you made it with the pillow. I am so glad you made your bed that is really, helpful. I wonder if your brother made his bed. Who made the bed the best? I hope the dog doesn’t mess up the bed you made. Can you check if my bed is made too.  All the beds are made.” When you recast try to emphasise the part that is corrected while keeping it part of a natural interaction.

Speech Team

Speech Pathology News: Book Sharing

The term two in-class oral language program is now well under-way and we continue to enjoy having the students face to face with us in class.  Our in-class programs utilise many different tools and materials to support students to engage in activities which build language. One of our favourite resources is a book. A book is also a simple way to build language at home. It can be enjoyable to read books from cover to cover but when building language, we really want to encourage children to engage in a conversation about the book. A powerful way to do this is to use lots of comments that start with:

  • I think…
  • I wonder…

You could comment about:

  • What the characters are doing and why
  • What the characters are feeling and why
  • What might happen next and how you know

Comments could sound something like the ones below:

  • I think the first little pig is making his house of straw because it is easier than bricks.
  • The second little pig has big eyes and he is running fast. I think he is scared the wolf will eat him.
  • I think he will hide in the second little pigs house to be safe.
  • I wonder if it will be easy for the wolf to blow the stick house down.

“I think…” comments help to explain the story to your child and the “I wonder…” comments invite your child to share their own thoughts about the text. To help your child contribute always pause after your comments to give them extra time to participate. If they do not join in, you can share your idea and/or simply keep reading the text until you make another comment. Initially, some children may find it difficult to spend a long time in an interaction around a book, so just keep going until your child loses interest but do not be afraid to pick it up at another time and do a little bit more. Once your child is familiar with the process they will begin to engage for longer periods.

If you do not have easy access to lots of books at home, then try joining the local library or sharing the book your child brings home each week from the school library using the process above.

Speech Team

Speech Pathology News: Daily Tasks

It is exciting to have students back in the classroom with us for our oral language session. We all agree face to face contact is so much more powerful for building language than through a screen.

Within oral language sessions, classes are working on a range of things. Some classes are working on learning new vocabulary to describe tastes and textures, and around topics such as food, transport and community workers. Others are working on developing sentence structure and supporting story-telling skills.

You can help to support the building of vocabulary by getting your child involved in everyday activities and naming and talking about the objects you are using. For example, have your child help you with the washing. Get them to find different articles of clothing e.g. tops, skirts, shorts and socks as you put them in the washing machine, hang them on the line or fold them. You can talk about the parts they have or describe their colours and patterns. You could sort them according to size, colour texture or function.

You could also have your child help out in the kitchen. Perhaps you could make sandwiches, pizzas or a cake together. You can name the ingredients and talk about how they look, feel and taste or what parts they have (i.e. seeds, stem, skin, core, crust, crumbs). Once your child is familiar with the names of ingredients you could support them to use the labels by having them instruct you in making something.

You can support your child’s sentence structure which will also support story-telling by “tuning in” to how your child is expressing their ideas. If their message is unclear ask if they can help you understand what they are saying by telling you more or saying it in a different way. If this is too challenging for your child, then ask very specific questions to help them clarify their ideas. For example, if your child says something like “Put it on there.” You could say something like “I am a bit confused can you help me out? What do you want me to put on? Where do you want me to put it?”. Then say all the information back to your child. For example, “Oh now I know you want me to put the butter on the bread. You are using great words and that helps me understand.”

In a busy world the temptation can be to complete daily tasks as quickly as possible, so we can move onto the next thing. This can make it hard for a child with a language difficulty to engage and learn. Taking time to slow down, and involve your child in these activities, even if it is only sometimes, can be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone.

Speech Pathology News: Play

Although the current requirement for social distancing has some challenges, hopefully one of the positives is families can enjoy more time together without the usual rush. This is a perfect time to continue to support your child’s language development by joining in with their play. Sometimes play is seen as what children do as a break from learning, but the reality is play provides a context for powerful learning, especially language, but with the added benefit of it is fun and enjoyable too.

You can make play with almost anything. Try pretend cooking with some pots and pans from the kitchen or a pretend tea party with plastic cups and plates. If your child has access to blocks, cars or dolls then try pretending or building with these things. You could build a cubbyhouse using blankets, sheets and towels over tables and chairs. You can also build things with items from your recycling bin or go into the garden and play in the sand.

Sometimes as adults we can feel a little silly playing, so start simple and let your child show the way. Let your child play, observe what they do, comment on what they are doing (e.g. you are building a big tower or the car is racing along the track. Or your baby is hungry so you are feeding her.) then join in by copying what your child is doing (i.e. build your own tower, get another car and race it). As you and your child become comfortable with each other you can add ideas or make suggestions (e.g. Oh no my car crashed. What will we do? Oh no my tower fell down help me build it again. I think the baby is tired I will make a bed for him. How about we build a farm. This can be the bed). No matter what you do when you play the most important thing is to have fun and show you are enjoying it. Your child will just enjoy being in the moment with you and there will be opportunities to talk which builds language.