Speech and language

At the Fremantle Language Development Centre (FLDC), our curriculum and specialised language programs are run collaboratively by specially trained Teachers, Speech Pathologists and Education Assistants. The small class sizes allow us to address the individual needs of our students in a way that is not possible in mainstream classrooms. We conduct comprehensive assessments to inform individual goals, monitor progress, and plan for the intervention that is required. Our staff participate in regular professional learning to ensure knowledge and application of current research.

At the FLDC we work within an evidence-based Response-to-Intervention (RTI) model. The RTI model ensures that each child receives the instruction that is best suited to their needs. The RTI model consists of three tiers of instructional processes:

  • Tier One: High-quality core instruction based on current scientific evidence.
  • Tier Two: Focused small group intervention targeting specific language needs of students.
  • Tier Three: Intensive interventions and comprehensive evaluation for students at significant risk.

Our specialised language programs are facilitated by Speech Pathologists working in each classroom. The programs cover the six areas of language outlined below:

Comprehension (Receptive language)

Receptive language is the understanding of language ‘input’. Children need to understand the words used, the grammatical structures of the sentence, and the context in which it was said. Difficulties in this area may include poor listening skills, difficulty following instructions and understanding questions, and difficulty understanding word meanings.

Semantics

Semantics refers to the meaning of words, our vocabulary, and the relationship between words. Skills to support the organisation of the semantic system include labelling objects and actions, organising things into categories, understanding similarities and differences, describing objects, and figurative language.

Grammar

Grammar is the area of language that relates to organising words and sentences according to a set of rules. Examples of skills that require well-developed grammar knowledge include correctly using pronouns (e.g. he, she, his, her, their), tenses (e.g. present tense or past tense), and joining words (e.g. and, because, but).

Phonological Awareness (pre-literacy skills)

Phonological awareness (PA) is the knowledge of the sound structure of words. PA skills are important for literacy development (learning to read and write) and are therefore fundamental components of our class programs. Examples of PA skills include rhyming, counting syllables, identifying sounds in words, and blending sounds to form words.

Narrative

Narrative skills include the ability to tell and retell a series of events. These can be real events (like what we do in conversation, news telling or personal recounts) or fictional narratives. Producing a narrative is a complex skill that requires well-developed language skills. As such, at the FLDC we run narrative programs that provide students with structure and support while these skills are developing.

Pragmatics and Social Skills

Pragmatics is the appropriate use of language and communication skills within a social situation. These skills develop as a child gets older. For some children with language difficulties, pragmatic skills need to be explicitly taught and modelled. Skills include awareness of the verbal and non-verbal rules of conversation (e.g., eye contact, turn-taking, personal space, volume, and tone of voice), understanding and expressing emotions, and problem solving in the classroom and the playground.

These areas of language are targeted at the FLDC through Literature Based Units. These units use a story book to target oral language skills at a tier one level. Additional support is provided as needed through Tier Two and Three intervention. These units incorporate strategies from:

  • Talk For Writing
  • Story Braidy scaffold
  • Word Aware
  • Colourful Semantics