Specific Language Intervention Strategies
by Betty Bunce, Ph.D., CCC/SLP
The following strategies are used consistently by the adults in the ECP Classroom to enhance the children’s speech and language skills.
- Focused Contrasts: Production by an adult that highlights contrastive differences in speech sounds, lexical items, and/or syntactic structures. Child: “Otay” Adult: “You said otay, but I say okay.”
- Modeling: Giving the child a model of a target sound, word, or form. Models often contain structures that the child does not yet produce. Child is invited to repeat or respond to the model, but is not required to do so. Usually models take the form of a statement or comment. Situation: Adult and child are sitting on a bench watching a playground. The target verb structure is “is + verbing.” Adult says to the child, “Look, Sara is swinging. Now, she is climbing.”
- Event Casts: Provides an ongoing description of an activity and are similar to the voice-over description of athletic events provided by sports broadcasters. For example, while making pudding with the class, the teacher might say “I’m pouring the mix into the bowl. Now, it’s time for the milk. What should I do next?” Also, a teacher can narrate out loud what he/she is thinking while trying to solve a problem. Caution: Overuse of this strategy can result in adult dominated conversations.
- Open Questions: These are questions that have a variety of possible answers. “What do you think will happen next?” “Why do you think that happened?” “What do you think we should do next?” Open questions contrast with closed or “test” questions. Closed or test questions usually demand a specific answer. Often consisting of one or two word utterances. Open questions are real questions to which the adult does not necessarily know the answer; there is less pressure on the child to provide a specific response. Asking a child “Can you tell me about your picture?” yield more language opportunities than asking “What’s that?”
- Expansions: Occur when the adult repeats the child’s utterance filling in the missing forms. Child: “He ride bus.” Adult: “yes, he rides the bus.”
- Recasts: Semantic information is retained while syntactic structure is altered. Child: “He walks home now.” Recast: “You’re right. He is walking home.” Recasts 1. Do not interrupt the flow of the conversation 2. Children need multiple repetitions of target structures. Adults can “recast” their own sentences in front of children to provide redundancy and flexibility. “Today is Tuesday. It’s Tuesday.”
- Redirects and Prompted Initiations: Redirect occurs when the child approaches an adult and makes a request that could be made to another child. Child approaches an adult and says “My turn on the swing.” Adult responds by saying “Tell Johnny. I want a turn on the swing please!” Prompted Initiation: Adult initially prompts a child to approach another child in play to request an item or a turn.
- Scripted Play: Provides opportunities for verbal communication within a meaningful context. A script is a representation of an event, an ordered sequence of actions organized around a goal. This includes actors, actions, and props. For an example, there are scripts for eating at a restaurant involving waiters and the people who are eating.
- Use of Scripts throughout the day: We use scripts throughout the classroom day for familiar daily routines such as arrival time, carpet time and snack time.
- Dramatic Play: Provides language exchanges between peers/ use scripts as an intervention strategy.