Posted in Intervention

Oral Language Goals for Older Students

Although promoting oral language is often discussed in the context of working with young children, it can also be an important intervention goal for older students. In ‘Communication Solutions for Older Students: Assessment and Intervention Strategies’, authors Vicki Lord Larson and Nancy L. McKinley provide potential goals for intervention for older students who need to strengthen their oral language. Below is a list of some goals for intervention aimed at intervention taken from the above-mentioned text:

Production of Linguistic Features
The student:
• Uses simple and complex sentences
• Uses appropriate sentence fragments
• Avoids using too many run-on sentences that are connected using and or and then
• Uses a variety of question forms (i.e., wh- questions, tag questions, interrogative reversals, and questions marked by rising intonation)
• Uses figurative language (i.e., slang, idioms, jargon, metaphors, similes, language for humour/entertainment)
• Avoids overusing nonspecific language (i.e., thing, stuff, and everybody) and can rephrase using more specific language if asked
• Displays few to no word-retrieval problems

Functions of Communication
The student:
• Gives an appropriate amount of information
• Gets information (i.e., by asking questions)
• Can describe an ongoing event with appropriate amount of detail for listeners
• Gets listener to do, believe, or feel something (i.e., persuade)
• Can express his/her ideas, perspective, and feelings
• Can indicate a readiness for further communication
• Uses language to solve problems
• Uses language to entertai

Fluency
The student:
• Avoids an excessive amount of verbal mazes that interfere with communication
• Avoids an excessive amount of false starts or abandoned utterances that interfere with communication

Conversations
The student:
• Applies the rules of conversation
• Initiates conversation in a variety of situations
• Selects appropriate topics
• Can maintain a topic over several turns between speaker and listener
• Switches topics in an appropriate manner
• Terminates conversations in a timely manner

Narrations
The student:
• Summarizes stories
• Categorizes stories
• Understands and produces complex stories with multiple embedded narratives
• Analyzes stories (13-15 years old)
• Can provide statements about the story’s theme or message (16 years-adulthood)
• Uses story grammar elements (i.e., can identify story’s characters, setting, events, goal, consequences, actions of characters, etc.)

Expository
The student:
• Integrates visual and verbal information
• Makes predictions
• Reasons logically
• Lists items relevant to a topic
• Justifies a position or decision
• Can compare and contrast ideas

These are some important considerations when targeting any of these goals:
Recruit related processes: This reduces the processing load on the child’s linguistic system.
Teach to a child’s strengths: This allows you to capitalize on a child’s natural abilities to facilitate learning. Using more effective cognitive processes allows the child to complete tasks using alternate strategies, or supports weaker processes as they work to complete the task.
•  Utilize dual coding if appropriate: For some children, being provided with auditory and visual cues can more effectively facilitate learning than receiving either of these cues in isolation. However, for other children dual coding may impose a greater load on their system and hinder learning. Thus, you need to analyze the child’s individual profile to determine if this will dual coding can better support them.

For more information, check out these additional resources:
Larson, V. L., & McKinley, N. L. (2007). Communication solutions for older students: Assessment and intervention strategies. Greenville, SC: Thinking Publications.

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