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 covering all areas of speech and language so that we are able to set individual goals (forming an Individual Education Plan or IEP), 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 models consist of three tiers of instructional processes:
- Tier One (all students): High-quality classroom instruction, screening, and group interventions. Considered the key component of tiered instruction, all students receive instruction within an evidence-based, scientifically researched core program.
- Tier Two: Targeted Interventions. Consists of children who fall below the expected levels of accomplishment and are at some risk for academic failure. In addition to the tier one instruction, programs are delivered that focus on their specific needs within a small group.
- Tier Three: Intensive Interventions and Comprehensive Evaluation. The groups are of much smaller sizes at this level and the students receive individualized, intensive interventions that target the students’ skill deficits.
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 refers to the meaning of words, our vocabulary and the relationship between words. Skills that require a well-developed semantic system include labelling objects and actions, organising things into categories, understanding similarities and differences, describing objects, and figurative language.
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 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.