Adjectives

Reportedly, adjectives are trending. Hope you find my resources helpful:

 

 

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More fairy tales with Language Levels questions

The tenth title in the Using Language Levels series is available at £2 from TES. Entitled Fairy tales – 3, it offers a text for each tale, an extra activity, the Language Levels questions, a cover note and a record sheet.

Stories in this set are:

  • Goldilocks and the three bears
  • The ugly duckling
  • The king’s new suit (=The emperor’s new clothes)

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I have been busy…

Uploads today to my TES collection:

  • The September calendar and worksheet (free) is here.
  • Fairy tales 2 – Using Marion Blank’s Language Levels: 9 with texts for three fairy tales, worksheets and the Language Levels questions is here and also costs £2. Amazing value. If you buy it and like it, please leave a nice comment!
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New title for Language Levels work

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The 8th in the series based on Dr Marion Blank’s work. Called Fairy tales 1 so you can infer there will be further tales to follow! This resource has texts, activities and Language Levels questions for:

  • The Little Mermaid
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Snow White

ONLY £2 FOR THE WHOLE RESOURCE

Please do review the resource if you buy it. (Especially if you like it and find it useful!)

PS I have rejigged the links within the resource and they now work. Sorry about that. I think you can re-download it for free if you bought it before.

NB The July calendar and worksheet is still available with the free example of the month’s Make & Read Small Book (normally £2).

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Education at home, ESL / EFL / EAL, Helping children understand, Helping language skills at home, Home schooling, Language Levels, Marion Blank, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech and Language Pathology, Speech and Language Therapy, Teaching

New Language Levels resource

a language levels resource all about the park

Using Language Levels: The Park

The sixth title in the Using Language Levels series is available at £2 from TES. Entitled The Park, it offers the usual varied set of activities as well as providing a good basis for discussing a place which is familiar to many children.

PS The December calendar and worksheet have just gone up on TES.

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Well done!

Congratulations to Pip Harrison (New Zealand writer and teacher) for coming first in this year’s Ronald Hugh Morrieson Literary Awards 2015 (Open Short Story).

Pip contributed the stories for older children to the 8 Traditional Tales posted in TES last year as our joint venture. Each tale has several items making the free download useful for a mixed ability class.

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Pronouns

Further to a query on a forum on TES, I have picked out some of my resources which are particularly aimed at working on pronouns. Hope you find this helpful. See the Pronouns listing in the sidebar.

Have also made the Christmas resources visible as that time is coming round again.

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New Marion Blank Language Levels resource

one of four pictures for the topic All About Me by Catherine Redmayne

Family and home

To fit with the topic All About Me, it includes family, home, likes, activities and holidays. The focus of the Language Levels pages is 1-1 or small group work with children who need carefully graded questions. A small vocabulary set is included. Each of the four scenes has questions at each Language Level. You can extend these with your own similar questions.

The resource would also be useful for EAL groups or home schooling.

The same pictures are included on a single sheet (in colour and black&white versions) for new activities.

There is a simple reader (RA 6-7y) with the four illustrations. This is also provided in colour and black&white).

It is written in UK English but I’m sure adult speakers of US or other English will be able to re-word the questions to suit local usage.

Price £2. Available here: https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/using-marion-blank-s-language-levels-5-all-about-me-11091776

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How did you get on?

I hope you were able to join in the Kids’ Art Week fun. My posts (see links below) include my own efforts at each activity plus a mini language lesson based on the videos etc.   The art sessions are still available (see any of the posts) and the ideas could be used in a lesson at school, for after-school clubs, for home schooling – or just for fun anywhere!

For the new term I have been preparing the next in my series based on Marion Blank’s Language Levels. This one focuses on the common All About Me topic. I will post the link soon.

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Modigliani portraits

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Here are my examples from lesson 6.

Good vocabulary possibilities:

Yesterday the page was divided down the middle. Today the background space is divided by lines drawn down and then across. The rectangles are fairly random. A coloured line is then drawn round the edge of each shape – even for the rectangular shapes. Just point out it’s a bit strange! If appropriate you can introduce the word ‘outline’: but again this does not mean what it sounds like. It isn’t ‘out’ – it’s on the edge, and probably on top of or inside the pencil guide line. Remember children can be very literal and it is often appropriate to say it is odd, but that’s what we say.

I found it all too easy to end up with adjacent boxes going to be the same colour but was able to talk to myself and plan how to sort that. Some children find the ‘if I do that, then…’ almost impossible and get very cross when things go wrong. You could maybe use large and small Lego in the three colours to work out how not to get two the same colour next to each other.

This social story resource was for a likeable but volatile child. http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6050149 Luckily not all the things really happened the same day!

Some shape drawing is needed and Carla refers to Letter U, Letter L and almond shapes. Many children do not learn the letter names at first and you could describe U as drawing down, round the bottom and up – it’s like the top of a wine glass; L is down and across, like a corner of a square; almonds are tricky – just practise making the curves and pointed ends on a separate piece of paper. Do the top and pause, then the bottom.

You could have a good discussion about how some crayons and markers will spread out like paint when you use a wet brush next to them, and some won’t; the patterns that may occur as the colour and water flow; and maybe how the colours will mix and make a little patch of a new colour. Some water-soluble crayons have a brush motif to indicate this feature.

Watch the video together, talk about what Carla did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc.

When you’ve made your paintings, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order. Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list. If some of the actions are correct but in an impossible order, try and introduce the idea of ‘coming first’, ‘and then’, and ‘that was the last thing’… like a story.

It’s the end of Kids’ Art Week already – it’s been great fun. It would be good to talk about which lesson was most fun and why. The methods could all be applied to new pictures, changing the task slightly. Scaffolding new work onto a previous lesson not only gives revision of the vocabulary and ideas, but extends the learning in a meaningful way.

The link button should remain operational but in case you can’t make it work here are the direct YouTube links. (But it’s much better to have the text too.)

Lesson 1 (Picasso Dog) https://youtu.be/slYX1OUKuhI

Lesson 2 (Crayon Resist Night Sky) https://youtu.be/P1fO6pxY2EI

Lesson 3 (Leaf Printing) https://youtu.be/Fdq2I_aZGVY

Lesson 4 (Nature Faces) https://youtu.be/OTWwWCbpf8k

Lesson 5 (Oil Pastel and Paint People) https://youtu.be/Ul56NKmsrl0

Lesson 6 (Modigliani portraits) https://youtu.be/koWwUvsMn1k

Click on the button to access the classes – it’s free…

Carla Sonheim’s blog is great. She often has fun things to do which are free:
Why not Follow her today?

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Oil pastel and paint people

Here are my examples from lesson 5. I didn’t have enough black paper to make the expected size and I made them much too small so could not add the suggested extra decorations. I also had to use Cray-Pas as I gave away my oil pastels because I hated the feel of oil pastels – and Cray-Pas are not much better! It gives me empathy with the children who have similar horrors.

Good vocabulary possibilities: We talk about the border and painting round the edge – even though the page is rectangular. Just point out it’s a bit strange! Then we put a line down the middle. We do usually draw top to bottom and understanding what is meant by going down/up/across (which should be left-right like reading and writing English)/round is critical for describing letter forms and drawing geometric shapes.

Adjectives about the colours: light; dark; bright; ‘close’ colours might be easier to understand if described as ‘nearly the same’.

Common shapes: Diane talks about the ‘sections’ but also calls them shapes. Children learn circle, square, triangle and rectangle first. If the sections are not ‘nameable’ shapes, you could talk about the bits or parts that have to be coloured.

Orientation expressions: you will turn the page upsidedown to colour it. Be sure the child knows that the page is to be turned round/around not over! Talking about things being the right way up/upsidedown depends on who is looking at it. Too often I have seen adults forget this when they are holding a book or pointing at a part of the paper. Always try to be beside the child so you both have the same view! Then left/right/top/bottom is the same for both of you.

Verbs: ‘leave’ is mentioned again – when you let some of the black remain visible; we divide the page – children may have heard about dividing when doing sums so explain it in relation to a page.

Watch the video together, talk about what Diane did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc.

Video demonstrations are excellent for learning vocabulary because:

  • the meaning is often made clearer by the accompanying action
  • you can watch it again and the voice will sound EXACTLY THE SAME – this is really helpful for children to detect new words etc. When we repeat things in conversation because someone did not hear/understand, it is very difficult not to change the volume, stress, vocal timbre etc. A recording gives you a second chance without these changes.

When you’ve made your paintings, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list. If some of the actions are correct but in an impossible order, try and introduce the idea of ‘coming first’, ‘and then’, ‘that was the last thing’… like a story. Make a card to send someone but beware of oil pastel/Cray-Pas because it loves your carpets and clothes…

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6050371 includes the vocabulary you might need for ‘the journey of a letter’.

Wow! It’s nearly the end of Kids’ Art Week already – great fun. One more lesson to do.

Click on the button to access the classes – it’s free…

Carla Sonheim’s blog is great. She often has fun things to do which are free:
Why not Follow her today?

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Nature faces

Here are my faces made from a few things I picked up in the garden or saw on my table. It was fun to see how spacing the eyes differently changed the face a lot.

Vocabulary about the faces: naming the parts of the face which are less well known (e.g. eyebrow, forehead, chin). Talk about how the ‘person’ looks: happy, cross, friendly, nice, angry, old, scary, surprised… Maybe talk about what made the person feel that.

This resource http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6054655 has some good pictures of verbs that go with emotions. Or print out some emoticons really large to talk about.

The items you found for your faces – refer to Lynn’s list and say whether she used the same things or had things you couldn’t find. Comparing (what’s similar) and contrasting (what’s different) are good tasks at even a simple level for pushing attention skills and describing.

Homonyms – words that have two distinct meanings – we have lots and children are very confused by them but may only indicate this confusion by a strange response to your instruction/comment: face (we are making faces, but children may often be instructed not to make/pull faces!; children may have to face a partner and this refers to the way you have to stand); rock (US English seems to include quite small stones in the rocks category – we usually save rocks for very big stones, but children know rock as a body movement too).

If you watched the video together, talk about what Lynn did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc.

When you’ve made yours, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  You can point at one of the faces you took a photo of and ask specifically how the child made that one. Or make a game of Spot the Difference. Look at the top row of pictures in my grid; if you printed them out and chose two at a time the child could be challenged to report on the differences – this is usually a popular activity and provides a real challenge to good describing language. You could easily make a set away from the child just by moving the individual items a little, changing the mouth, removing the eyebrows etc. etc., take a photo at each change, print them and make cards for the game. Start with easy ones depending on the child’s language level such as 1  eye/2 eyes; happy/sad; big/small/no nose; green/blue eyes…

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Leaf printing

 

Here are my tags decorated with leaf prints in lesson 3. I made some prints into birds and others into bugs as suggested.

Good vocabulary possibilities:

Birds: talk again about how we know they are birds – refer back to Crazy Birds. What do birds always have? How can you tell some of my pictures are not birds?

Adjectives about the leaves: colour names; pointed; hard; soft; shiny; prickly; hairy; smelly.

Common patterns (stripes, spots, zigzags); orientation expressions e.g. this way, that way, paint side down, the other way up.

Verbs: the earlier post gave some verbs (what birds can do). Other verbs for this project might include: choose (leaves and colours), cut out, paint, tie, draw… It is always a good idea to reinforce verbs by using the word as you do the action. Lots of repeats may be necessary.

Homonyms – words that have two distinct meanings – we have lots and children are very confused by them but may only indicate this confusion by a strange response to your instruction/comment: orange; tie; leaves (on a tree, walking out and in subtraction sums); punch (the hole punch); bark (on the trees you pick the leaves from and bark like the Picasso dog); tag (the game, the label); yarn (string, a story – for older children)…   (Don’t introduce words that are outside the likely vocabulary of young children.) Carla’s joke contains another: Q: What did the trees wear to the pool party?  A: Their trunks! (Children will often laugh because they have been told a joke is coming but if you ask what is funny the answer will be irrelevant e.g. here they might say trees can’t swim or they don’t wear clothes.)

This resource is about homonyms etc. for children of a suitable age http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6049438

Expressions we use which are confusing e.g. ‘look like’ (when you decide what the leaf print will be). Children know ‘like’ as in ‘I like chocolate’ but we use the word ‘like’ in other ways: it looks like rain; he looks like his brother; what does this leaf print look like? The two sentences: ‘What does it like?’ (as in what food does a bird like) versus ‘What is it like?’ (as in look like) – I think the children ignore the words before ‘like’ and focus on the end of the sentence so they don’t pick up the different meanings quickly.

The tools you used – refer to Lynn’s list and talk about your things.

If you watched the video together, talk about what Lynn did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc.

When you’ve made yours, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list. If some of the actions are correct but in an impossible order, try and introduce the idea of ‘coming first’, ‘and then’, ‘that was the last thing’… like a story.

Two tips: if your child hates to have paint on his fingers, you can use a roller to apply the paint to the leaf and try an old pair of tweezers to pick it up. Then to press on it to transfer the paint use a piece of the plastic tissue you put between slices in the freezer: you can see through it and it doesn’t stick to acrylic etc. Wonderful stuff!

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Night sky

Carla Sonheim workshopNight sky 1

Here are my night sky pictures from lesson 2.

Good vocabulary possibilities:

Adjectives: you may have a copy of The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark which is often read in school. It contains many ‘wow words’ which are adjectives and relates well to this night sky task. This resource set is about that book http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/The-Owl-who-was-Afraid-of-the-Dark-simplified-6067399/

Homonym: press hard (children usually seem to know ‘hard’ as the opposite of soft but it can be helpful to use ‘difficult’ when that’s what you mean – it’s a longer word but they seem to know it).

This resource is about homonyms etc. for children of a suitable age http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6049438

Talking about position: a nightmare for many children. In this one, Diane suggests going off the edge/over the edge of the paper with the wax crayon; and changing the colour in the middle. You can also talk about the top/bottom/side of the page (point as you mention them).

The tools you used – refer to Diane’s list and talk about your things.

You can use a piece of the plastic tissue you put between slices in the freezer between your pictures as you press the glued portion on each – make a pile and put a heavy book on it.

The black silhouette might be too difficult for some children to cut out. You could let them draw it with a white crayon and then you cut just inside their line.

Why not look for other silhouette ideas like shadow puppets?

If you watched the video together, talk about what Diane did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc. (as before and you can refer to the list on the instructions)

When you’ve made your pictures, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list. If some of the actions are correct but in an impossible order, try and introduce the idea of ‘coming first’, ‘and then’, ‘that was the last thing’… like a story.

Click on the button to join up – it’s free…

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Picasso dog

Here is my Picasso dog. Did you make some?

Good vocabulary possibilities:

Eye, nose, ear, tongue, paw, tail, (learning to name the parts of things is really important for clarity – see http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Naming-of-parts-6224211/ ) Talk about what’s missing from this dog. E.g. how many paws does a dog have? Where is his body? Where are his legs?

Colour names and how to mix orange, green and purple. The tools you used – I had a pencil, red, yellow and blue paint, a brush, some water in a jar, black felt tip and paper. I couldn’t find any black paper so I took the photo of my picture on top of something black!

Dogs can walk, run, sit, jump, swim, bark, make a mess, catch things, eat, drink, what can dogs do that we can’t?

Draw, turn, open the paint, squeeze some out, mix the colours, a little bit of blue, a lot of yellow, paint the dog, look at your picture, do you like it this way?, turn it round, does it look good now?, take a photo, print it, make a card, send the card (all the vocabulary for that).

If you watched the video together, talk about what Carla did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready etc. etc.

When you’ve made yours, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list. If some of the actions are correct but in an impossible order, try and introduce the idea of ‘coming first’, ‘and then’, ‘that was the last thing’… like a story.

Talk about how the picture is a bit like a dog BUT that it is very funny/strange/peculiar/odd. Look at a dog you have or see outside your home and talk about a real dog.

Click on the button to join up – it’s free…

 

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Crazy birds

Here are my crazy birds. Did you make some?

Good vocabulary possibilities:

bird   beak   tail   claws   wings   feathers   two legs (learning to name the parts of things is really important for clarity – see http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Naming-of-parts-6224211/ )

colour names and the tools you used – I had a pencil, blue ink, yellow paint, colour sticks, paper, scissors, glue stick

birds can fly, walk, (swim), make a nest, lay eggs, catch things, find food, drink, bathe – what can birds do that we can’t?

cut, cut in half, cut again, quarter(s) 1, 2, 3, 4, choose, turn around, this looks like… (a head, a tail), stick, draw, take a photo, print it, make a card, send the card (all the vocabulary for that)

If you watched the video together, talk about what Carla did: what did she get out ready, how did she begin, what came next, and so on. Before you start on yours, list the actions again as you point at your fingers in turn:

  1. we get everything ready
  2. we draw circles
  3. we draw flowers
  4. we cut them up
  5. we choose a bit of a circle and a bit of a flower
  6. we stick them on a piece of paper
  7. we finish the bird

When you’ve made yours, ask the child to report on how the job was done – praise any attempt at a sequenced list of actions in the correct order.  Again, point at your fingers to jog the memory of the list.

Talk about how we know they are birds BUT that they are funny/strange/peculiar/odd birds. Look at any birds outside your home and talk about the differences: colour, shape, leg length…

Click on the button to join up – it’s free…   The Crazy Birds video is an introductory one. Hope you can find it! I will post my Picasso Dog next!

 

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Kids Art Week

Knowing how lovely Carla Sonheim’s classes are, I’m sure this one will be no exception – and it’s free! Click on the picture to get more details and sign up. I’ll be there – ever a child at heart!

Art topics are great settings for promoting language skills.

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Using Language Levels: Story 4 Friends

cover page of new story

Friends

The story pictures are presented in three formats to increase the usefulness of the resources:

  • with questions for each page at all the Levels (I-IV)
  • in a smaller size for you to make additional activities
  • in a story text – and this one has colouring pages as well (RA 6-7y).

The series is listed on TES at £2.00 per title. Each set of resources will be useful for many sessions – either as you make progress with one child, or work with a group at different language development level.

Constructive comments are welcome – you can message me on this blog or TES. Or please contact me if the suggestions are not clear. It is difficult to pack good information in and still be concise.

These resources are for school or home use. I hope everything is explained adequately.

These are the first three titles:

Using Language Levels: At the seaside

Using Language Levels: Sally’s garden

Using Language Levels: Bob’s dream

The new title is:

Using Language Levels: Friends

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Using Language Levels: new resources

I see searches for information about Dr. Marion Blank’s Language Levels just about every day. So I have been working on some new resources which feature graded questions of the sort included in Language Levels I-IV.

Each set of story pictures is presented in three formats to increase the usefulness of the resources:

  • with questions for each page at Levels I-IV
  • in a smaller size for you to make additional activities
  • in a story text.

They are listed on TES at £2.00 per title.

Constructive comments are welcome – you can message me on this blog or TES.

These are the first three titles:

Using Language Levels: At the seaside

Using Language Levels: Sally’s garden

Using Language Levels: Bob’s dream

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It’s dinner time!

A 5-year-old lad had a nasty fall off his bike, ripped a fingernail and went to A&E to be patched up. In spite of this traumatic series of events, he suggested to his mum that they ask the doctor home for dinner. Mum said it was okay to invite him but she thought the doctor might prefer to go to his own home and put his feet up. Quick as a flash, the child did a re-think and issued the invitation plus “you could sit on the couch with your feet up while Mum cooks”.*

I recall much older children who had difficulty mastering the idea that an invitation could include something pleasantly persuasive. Or, on the topic of advertising, understanding what the advertising company had done in order to be persuasive – and why. Sometimes it is particularly clear what a head start is gained by well-developed language skills!

*You will be glad to know the doctor had done his bedside manner training and declined politely with the explanation he had to study after work. Maybe true, or chosen as being sufficiently weighty and within the knowledge of a school child.

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Dr. Marion Blank

The language style used by adults to children in the preschool and early school years is critical. (Post reissued)

Continue reading

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To bad-mouth: verb

Okay – so we’ve got used to this new verb. But it still sounds like slang. But ‘to empty podium’??? On BBC Radio 4 too. Poor Mr. Cameron – they threaten to empty podium him and carry on with debates he doesn’t want to go to. Whatever next?

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Time and Index Update

1. I’ve decided to make a new special section in the list of resources called Time. These time resources are not new but I haven’t collected them together before. Anyone working with children with delayed or impaired language development will know that the concepts to do with time are very difficult.

2. I have updated the index pdfs and I hope they now show all the current resources!

TITLES OF ALL POSTS 

Posted in Child language, Helping children understand, Index of Resources, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching, Uncategorized

The Lady and the Lion

I am proud to announce (with sound of trumpets) that Pip Harrison and I have got to the end of The Year of the Fairy Tale. The last set of resources based on two similar stories by the Brothers Grimm have been uploaded to TES today. The Lady and the Lion

This has been a long joint project and we are pleased with the results and hope the resources are useful – and enjoyed.

Brothers Grimm The Lady and the Lion

The Lady and the Lion (dummy book)

If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions here.

 

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy | Tagged , , , , ,

The Magic Horse

sent to jail, handcuffs, Read Aloud version contributed by NZ writer/teacher ©Pip Harrison

…“Guards! Seize this man!” ordered the King. “Take him to prison until my son comes safely home. Fancy bringing me such a dangerous thing!” …

Early Reading version

 …“Look at that!” cried the King.

“The Prince might die.”

And the King sent the man to jail…

The three simpler versions:

  • with symbols
  • at a lower reading level
  • as sequencing cards with captions                are less challenging in content.

Plus:

  • More tessellations to talk about, colour, or cut and reassemble
  • A writing ‘frame’ to make 8 A5 pages, each with a picture and lines for children to write a new version

 The link is on the right under Traditional Tales. Constructive comments are welcome either in the Resource listing when you have downloaded the stories from TES and used them with your group, or by a message to me on this blog or as a PM on TES.

If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions (as above) here.

TITLES OF PREVIOUS POSTS 

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching

Cinderella

#5CINDERELLA 9

Pip Harrison, New Zealand writer, has rewritten the well-known tale from the Fairy Godmother’s point of view. The RA is approx. 11y for older children, or to be read aloud.

‘…Amidst it all, the prince and Cinderella gazed at each other and talked and laughed and laughed and talked. The clock struck the three-quarter hour. Cinderella barely glanced up. Only a quarter of an hour to go before the magic would fade! I tried to catch her eye but she and her prince were in a world of their own. Oh no! The clock was starting to strike midnight…’

 Early Reading version (in large size print):

‘…She was dancing when—suddenly—the clock struck 12…’

If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions (as above) here.

The simpler versions:

  • with symbols
  • at a lower reading level
  • as sequencing cards with captions                are less challenging in content.

A new activity has been included with this story: a writing ‘frame’ to make a booklet of 8 pages, each with an iconic picture and lines for children to write a new version.

Tessellations to talk about, colour, or cut and reassemble.

The link is on the right under Traditional Tales. Constructive comments are welcome either in the Resource listing when you have downloaded the stories from TES and used them with your group, or by a message to me on this blog or as a PM on TES.

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, PSHE / Virtues Programme, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy | Tagged , , ,

If you’re a good girl…

Today I chuckled to hear a small child promise from her buggy, ‘If you’re a good girl, you can have an ice cream.’

It was a shame her mother didn’t clarify things even by the joke response, ‘I’m always a good girl!’ Or ‘Would you like an ice cream as well?’

Indeed, she looked startled when I asked if I had heard right, but then just agreed I had.

Another similar instance was a little boy in the park peering through a tube and asking, ‘Can I see you?’

The logical response to this is, ‘I don’t know – can you see me?’ But it might be more helpful to reply, ‘I can see you – can you see me?’ with some helpful pointing to show who’s being talked about. This at least demonstrates what the child probably meant.

The pronoun system is very hard to explain – just keep trying to use the words and make it clear who’s being spoken about.

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy

The Twelve Brothers

Flowers and ravens

Flowers and ravens

“…As the young men pushed open the gate, she picked the twelve flowers. With each snip one young man after the other rose up from the garden, arms turning to great black wings, noses to beaks, legs to claws – a great flock of ravens. They flew into the air, wheeled round and disappeared over the forest. That was not all that disappeared either…”

The latest fairy tale has been quite a challenge! The basic story from the Brothers Grimm is grim indeed.

Pip Harrison, New Zealand writer, has rewritten the tale as a scary campfire story for older children, or to be read aloud (if suitable for your group). The simpler versions:

  • with symbols
  • at a lower reading level
  • as sequencing cards                are less challenging in content.

A new activity has been included with this story: tessellations to talk about, colour, or cut and reassemble.

The link is on the right under Traditional Tales. Constructive comments are welcome either in Resources when you have downloaded the stories from TES and used them with your group, or by a message direct to me there. If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions  here.

Posted in Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

“Shall I walk with you?” said the wolf.

“Oh, no, sir, thank you. I can quite well walk by myself and I expect you have wolf things to be getting on with.”

 “Well, there is one wolf thing I could be doing,” said the wolf, chuckling to itself in a rather sinister way. “Good day to you,” it said and it loped off into the trees.

Half the suite of 8 fairy tales is now complete. The remaining stories will be uploaded later in the year. We hope you are enjoying them. The links are on the right under Traditional Tales. Constructive comments are welcome either when you download the stories from TES or by a message direct to me there. If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions here.

Posted in Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

The real princess AKA The princess and the pea

The real princess

The real princess

“Pea of destiny, pea of delight,

We need your help, we seek insight.

Is this princess the real deal?

Will she sleep or will she feel

Your bumpy presence in her bed,

Making her toss and turn instead?…”

Find the link to the resources based on this well-known fairy tale under Traditional Tales in the sidebar. They include this version in verse. If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions  here.

Posted in Child language, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy | Tagged , , ,

Blondine, Bonne-Biche & Beau-Minon

The Lilac Forest © languageisheartosay

The Lilac Forest
© languageisheartosay

Another Traditional Tale has been uploaded to TES. If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions (as above) here. The original story – from a book of Old French Fairy Tales – is a very long text so it has been impossible to retain all the detail and nuance, particularly in the simple reading versions. Some of the more gory and/or old-fashioned ideas have been omitted or changed deliberately! The characters have been renamed as Blondie, Doe and Looker.

This particular tale links in very well with PSHE (Personal, social and health education) with its programme of learning opportunities and experiences that help young people grow and develop. Like many tales in the fairy tale genre, it provides discussion opportunities for positive and negative behaviours: love, jealousy, generosity, temptation, bribery, trust, betrayal, encouragement, endurance, disobedience, patience, wisdom and courage!

New Zealand writer Pip Harrison (who contributes the story to read aloud) tells me some schools in NZ have adopted The Virtues Programme. I found a NZ school site (thanks, Google!) that has a nice introduction to the Programme and its encouragement of courage, honour, justice, kindness and other virtues. http://www.franktonschool.ac.nz/the_virtues_programme.cfm

Posted in Child language, Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, PSHE / Virtues Programme, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

Music to my ears

images

BBC Radio 4’s news this morning included a mention of British Education Minister Elizabeth Truss visiting Shanghai to see their maths teaching in action. I’m sure I heard the mention of the importance of verbalising maths concepts. The English language is rich in many aspects but sadly it can also be confusing. There are so many multiple meanings for the words we use around maths concepts. And so many ways of saying the same thing! The children need these for everyday exchanges before they try to use the mathematical operations.

In the section Number and counting these two resources are particularly relevant:

  • ILLUSTRATED MATHS WORDS
  • MATHS CONCEPT WORDS AND PHRASES – WORKSHEETS

Posted in Association, Child language, Competence level, Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching

The Frog Princess

Prince Ivan sees his bride

Prince Ivan sees his bride

The first TRADITIONAL TALE is complete! See the link in the sidebar on the right. I hope people find it fun. If you do not get your resources from TES, you can find the ‘long and short of it’ versions here.

The INDEX entry has also been updated today and I hope one of the three versions will assist searches for themes or specific resources.

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Share stories, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching

So…

Where did it come from – the ubiquitous empty ‘so’? Did it travel along with the dreaded upspeak (or uptalk)? I am getting to the point where I take no notice of the intended message someone is imparting but tally the number of meaningless ‘so’ sentence-starts and upspeak ends!

But I digress. This year I am working on illustration with Carla Sonheim and intend to upload a suite of fairy tales which will have a version with symbols, a slightly longer text with illustrations, and a story written by Pip Harrison to read to children on the same theme.

Anyone trying to design resources for early or struggling readers will know how difficult it is to use:

  • a minimal but useful vocabulary
  • straightforward grammar
  • helpful layout

and still manage to put over a message.

I was running through some of the basics of Widgit’s Communicate:In Print with a group of TAs recently and thought to myself I wasn’t succeeding in getting over the message that knowing what the software can do is only a beginning! Creating the content is by far the most time-consuming element. It took me hours and several drafts to cut and re-cut the first fairy tale which I hope to upload shortly. Like my mother used to tell me, ‘It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it!’

Posted in Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Share stories, Teaching

Go find (this wonderful book)

Just finished ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue (Picador, 2011), a book I found hard to put down but did not wish to finish. Even read some bits twice. Don’t look at a description of it or you may suspect it will be beyond belief and/or mawkish. Neither is the case.

And, for those interested in a child’s development of thinking and language, it is a stunning exposition of the difficulties of referencing (those pesky pronouns and who is being referred to), metaphor, idiomatic usage and homonyms.

I can’t recommend it highly enough. Enjoy!

Posted in Association, Child language, Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy

Woolgathering in the windmills of my mind

Today I looked out and it was a wonderful autumn day: blue cloudless sky, no wind and I went to Wisley.

On my way there, I heard several updates about wars and rumours of wars on the car radio but nothing could take away from the beauty of the gardens. I walked around the pinetum and came across a pile of logs labelled as a new residence. There were photos of some of the likely inhabitants, including the stag beetle.

I remembered a charming, earnest little boy whose language I assessed. I don’t know how the topic started but at one moment he told me there were crabs in the woods. I said he might be thinking of stag beetles – but added he might not see them as they are a bit rare. To this he replied piteously, ‘Yes – they were all bombed in the war.’ At the time I could only suggest that some of the woods where they lived might have been damaged. I never laugh if I can help it when one of these non-sequiturs occurs. Later I asked the child’s mother if she could think where his idea came from and she said they were doing Remembrance at school (it being this same time of year: near 11th November). I still couldn’t think of a direct link. Much later I wondered whether ‘doodlebugs’ had something to do with it… Children often have difficulty with the passive voice, for example. What if someone had said, ‘lots of people were killed by doodlebugs’ and he made this an active statement so, for him, the crowds set out to kill bugs? We shall never know for sure. I am convinced that most children do have a definite reason for saying things – what is difficult is spotting the possible real connection, misunderstanding, misconception, mishearing… Or misleading information they have been given!

I continued on my way enjoying the wondrous contents of the huge new glasshouse, with its bananas and hibiscus able to summon up memories of distant places. From the outside, I noticed for the first time that the building reflected in its pool looked very like the standard picture-book version of the ark.

I had decided to ‘beat the bounds’ of the gardens – which put me in mind of meeting the creator of a fabulous collection of photographs at St. David’s Cathedral recently.

My outing was a privilege. How fortunate to be where the only battle was part of a place name in the gardens (Battleston Hill), and the only drone the noise from the adjacent motorway.

Posted in Association, Child language, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy | Tagged , , , , ,

Can you see what I mean?

This post is to highlight a published resource I designed but cannot put on TES (although I have a section of free resources there which you can find described on the page Read for Meaning/Inference in the list on the right). Like many of my language resources it is heavily influenced by the work of Marion Blank.

Many children seem not to infer information from pictures – never mind text. This resource aims to give practice in the skill of looking for meaning and interpreting pictures. Mr. GoodGuess is pretty good at this and the child is invited to point at the item that helps him guess at information which the child is told. Check out this link.

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Teaching | Tagged , , , ,

Citroen alert!

‘Don’t like Citroen!’

‘You don’t like Citroens? Why’s that?’

‘Citroen run me down.’

The grandfather’s chuckle as he replied led me to believe that Citroens have not shown an evil disposition to attack his grandson. Indeed, it seemed unlikely from his amusement that even one such accident had occurred.

He might have pointed out that all cars could act so malevolently but he just passed on to another subject. He chatted for the entire bus journey with the little boy. Listening to them, I thought the child must be at least 4 but, when I turned to see him, he looked barely 2 years old. There was no baby talk. The grandfather suggested things to look for, labelled things that could be seen, and replied to and encouraged every one of the child’s remarks that could be meaningfully extended.

‘Why bus bumpy?’

‘It’s a bumpy road. It makes the bus bumpy.’

‘Yes. Bumpy – and squeaky.’

‘You’re right – it is bumpy and squeaky.’

Whenever the grandfather was being humorous he included a chuckle: ‘Yes – Nana’s on the bus. We mustn’t leave Nana behind. [Laugh.] We wouldn’t get no dinner!’

Whenever things might be worrying for the little boy, he was reassuring. ‘That noise is just the branches on the roof. They’re too low. Nothing to worry about.’

How different from a mother and son I overheard on another day. She was keen to inform him that now term had started it would be necessary to leave out the holiday junk food and eat good food. This included a total run-down on the disasters included in his ‘breakfast’: a tuna mayonnaise and sweet corn sandwich with a very large bag of crisps. Minute detail about the safe daily allowance of salt, the unhealthiness of most crisps, the evils of flavourings, how many of the child’s acquaintances had heart problems – and so on. Finally the child asked if children could get heart attacks and learnt they could.

I reflected that neither child would be likely to have a poor vocabulary – a frequent finding when assessing young children presenting with poor speech and language. But I anticipate the first could well be better adjusted, more likely to expect things to be okay and more willing to offer his own observations about things around him. Keep it up, granddad – you’re doing a great job!

 

 

 

Posted in Child language, Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , , ,

Choose your martyrdom

Would you rather be pressed like St. Margaret Clitherow or hanged like St. Anne Line?

How does your school inform small children of their fate? Will the Head tell a 6 year old he is going to be put in the book? Or will he be put on the board?

Only when a child with language impairment innocently enquires, ‘Will you put my whole body in the book?’ does it become evident that the nature of the punishment is not quite understood.

This lad quite thought he’d got away with it when he heard it was only going to be his name.

He didn’t realise it was a severe reprimand dreaded by others to be ‘put in the book’. So, in one way, he had the last laugh – he had escaped a nasty squashing incident. But, in another, he was led astray yet again by his problems with language usage and could not judge the misdeed that led to the penalty in a suitably serious manner.

If this is ‘all’ that happens, might he be persuaded by others more savvy than him to do things which might one day end in real trouble?

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Helping children understand, Inference | Tagged , , ,

Good listening?

Teachers constantly exhort children to do ‘good listening’. And of course it is an excellent idea. But those who work specifically with children who have problems with attention, language delay, learning difficulties or a combination of all of these also encourage the provision of a ‘permanent trace’ to support learning. This may be a picture, a symbol, text or – combining all of these – an illustration plus symbol supported text!

In our household from my earliest memories comes a very morose ditty, always spoken with mock solemnity and guaranteed to have an effect:

Mrs. ———– gave a party     (pause)

No one came.

And her brother gave another     (pause)

Just the same.

We never saw this written down. I interpreted the party-giver as being Mrs. Hearty because the emotional tone merited a rather pejorative term to us. One sibling thinks of her as Mrs. Arty – which was actually far from uncomplimentary at home. Another has in mind Mrs. Harty – a name without emotional connotation.

This serves to point up the importance of learning topic vocabulary, suitably illustrated, before the introduction of the new lessons. We bring to words a bubble of emotion, meaning, context etc. and it is as well to set off down a new path with the Baedeker already perused!

Posted in Association, Child language, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Teaching

A real there there

My grammar check immediately spots I have repeated a word, but never mind! As soon as I heard this wonderful new noun (a ‘there-there’), I found it captivating. How much more immediate than solace or consolation.

Other recent activity has also shown me that the vocabulary of interesting words I was encouraged to use in the old days so as to avoid repetition and cliché now has to be set aside in certain circumstances. In order to be found by the all-controlling search engines, one must use a prescribed set of words for each situation. It’s not that other wow words (as the youngsters call them) are proscribed, it’s just that the search engines don’t recognise a thing described with them!

This reminds me of linguistics lessons back when linguistics was a new topic: the prescribed expression is what you should say; you may not say the proscribed version if you wish to be correct; and the described version is what people actually do say – even if the books say they shouldn’t.

My meaningful UK English also seems to be mocked by new vocabulary. The children are learning about the rainforest. I receive the important vocabulary to be studied, which includes canopy, forest floor, emergent trees and the understory.

Canopy and forest floor I can understand. Emergent is a nice word – though hardly an everyday one, and confusingly similar to emergency for 7 year olds. Understory – hmm! The word story in UK English comes up with tale, rumour, article, lie with the trusty Shift+f7 Thesaurus, whereas storey has row, level, layer. US English on the other hand has tale, rumor, article, lie for story but tells me I cannot spell if I enter storey. So I presume that the rainforest understory has been named in US English and the UK has not done its own version!

How lucky that most children will automatically spell it without the e – even if the ancients are turning in their graves in the ‘understorey’!

Posted in Grammar, Helping children understand, Inference, Promoting language development, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

That’s very funny!

The child’s voice rang out, all consonants crystal clear.   Probably every adult in the surrounding pews had to resist the urge to turn round and engage with the little girl at the carol service. Communicating with attractive children who make comments on life or ask questions is so compelling. She offered other interesting remarks to her family – all easily heard for several yards around, I’m sure – throughout the hour. Later on I found she was only 2 years and 4 days old.

The world is truly not a fair place when it comes to speech and language development! Some acquire the means to hold a conversation understandable to all at 2, while others can be struggling for many more years. Which one will get more input, response, encouragement? You’ve guessed it! It does take an effort to keep talking to a child who doesn’t seem to be making much of your remarks. Or whose speech is so unclear you cannot understand it. Many adults do not take the risk.

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Promoting language development | Tagged , ,

I smell a rat…

I see it floating in the air; I’ll nip it in the bud!

From English Language lessons many years ago this Mixed Metaphor sprang to mind when I heard another lovely example on the radio recently: ‘We’ve opened the Pandora’s Box and the can of worms is out.’

This is a surprising mental picture, but the message of the speaker is clear. Would it be so to anyone who could not call up the myth and the metaphor?

Posted in Association, Grammar | Tagged , ,

Let’s not add to confusion

English is very open to misunderstanding because of the number of homophones we have. Some are not spelt the same way – but when you hear examples there is scope for confusion – and of course non-readers cannot visualise both spellings. When the homophones occur in situations where the words have ‘jargon’ meanings linked to a topic, it makes it really difficult for children with weak language skills and slow auditory processing.

Two such examples occurred recently:

  • An IEP item included the target to learn to do word sums with addition and subtraction ‘and to be able to tell the difference’. Since the numerical concept of ‘difference’ is one that some children find really difficult to master, ‘the difference’ could be replaced with ‘which is which’. Since ‘which’ is another homophone word, the whole item should probably be rephrased altogether!
  •  Talking about the Numicon pieces each player held in a game, an adult commented, ‘I’ve got a 2 too.’ When you hear that sort of utterance come out, you can revise it immediately: ‘I mean I’ve got a 2 as well.’ Did you ever laugh at the following silly ditty?
Wunwun was a race horse
Tutu was one too
Wunwun won one race one day
Tutu won one too.
 

As adult speakers, we can try to think ahead about words that can be avoided in some situations and use e.g. correct/right, difficult/hard, as well/too… Listen out and you are sure to hear other examples which might have been expressed more clearly.

Posted in Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

What do you know?

A friend said she would enjoy teaching older people to use the computer but she was not an expert herself. Since she runs a big office, regularly sends emails and writes documents every day, she has obviously achieved excellent competence in some tasks. ‘Unconscious competence’ even – she knows, and doesn’t have to think about it.

She is however aware of many tasks the computer can be used for that she can’t do: here she has ‘conscious incompetence’ – she doesn’t know, but at least she knows that she doesn’t know.

So, since she is a confident trainer, I feel she could teach lots of people what she can do almost without thinking because she will see where they are starting from. And they will soon be able to do the useful tasks my friend has mastered. At a ‘conscious competence’ level: they will know, and know that they know – but it won’t be second nature for quite a while!

Better for the learners that they learn some skills they want really well than leap in without any guidance at the level of ‘unconscious incompetence’ – when they don’t know, and they don’t know that they don’t know. That way is the maelstrom of spam and corruption!

Trying to help children who have made little progress with literacy and numeracy, it is all too easy to take for granted the skills we have at the unconscious competence level – and forget we once had to learn them. Usually from someone who had analysed the task, thought about the sub-tasks, and who taught in logical steps.

Posted in Competence level, Teaching | Tagged

A Marmite relationship

Watch one of the men in charge of a display of birds of prey! He strides around the ring, talking non-stop in an informative but colloquial style about the birds, while his colleague gets the birds to fly. As the speaker comes closer, the sound quality from his amplification system is a bit distorted. He is referring to one of the birds and – still walking and talking at speed – he comments that he has a ‘Marmite relationship’ with the bird which is out at that moment.

Through my mind flashes ‘you love it or you hate it’ and I presume he means that the  bird doesn’t like him as much as the other handler. The unknown toddler in front of me can’t be making anything of the commentary really. But Marmite – he knows that word! He exclaims like an echo ‘Marmite!’ as if he’s encountered an old friend.

I guess we are primed to pick out words we know and attempt to make sense of them! All the more reason to introduce children to words carefully and make sure they say them clearly, and know they can have hidden extra meanings sometimes!

Posted in Association, Child language, Inference | Tagged ,

The cobbler’s children go unshod!

Don’t you love earwigging? Not in an unpleasant way – just overhearing because you can’t help it.

Continue reading

Posted in Association, Inference | Tagged ,

Look, mummy, look!

Many of the children who fall behind with language development have immense problems with drawing inferences: from events, from pictures, from conversation and especially from text when they get to that stage.

It is delightful to observe children who do not have such problems commenting on things they see around them. The ‘comment’ might only be to point or look amazed, but very young children can be quick to appreciate there’s something ‘not quite right’. The little boy I saw pointing and telling his mum to look appeared to be about 3. What he had noticed as striking was a narrow, hilly street – looking like any other, with pavements and a roadway between – but half way down the Council had erected two posts in the roadway to stop it being used by cars. The child didn’t attempt to verbalise this quirky sight but he was clearly very satisfied by his mother understanding what he found surprising and making a suitable comment to acknowledge the oddity and explain the reason for it. He had inferred (at some level) that roads – to be any good as roads – should not have permanent obstructions blocking them.

I loved the look of astonishment on the face of an even younger child – no more than a toddler – in the park. He had made his way towards a shiny toy car, apparently left in the middle of the grass. He stretched out a finger tentatively to stroke it when all of a sudden it took off and drove at speed out of range! Why was he so amazed? Because, one assumes, he had already internalised the fact that toy cars should not move of their own accord. The young couple with the remote control who had been watching him with good humour laughed and made the car zoom around some more. Once the toddler had seen the couple and the ‘magic box’, he no longer seemed at all surprised.   He couldn’t have said what it was, but he seemed to accept there was an explanation after all.

Posted in Child language, Inference | Tagged

Keep speech simple too

It’s not just print that needs adapting – even talk can be confusing!

The words we use, the speed we go, the in-between time – all these will influence how much a child understands. Especially the child with delayed or impaired language development.

Continue reading

Posted in Association, Child language, Competence level, Inference, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

Keeping text simple

It can’t be hard to make things simpler… can it?

Well, actually, it can be quite tricky. Creating or adapting resources for children with language impairment can take a long time. Not only that. After using the resources it may be necessary to revise the language if some counter-intuitive things come to light!

Continue reading

Posted in Child language, Competence level, Grammar, Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Speech & Language Pathology, Speech & Language Therapy, Teaching | Tagged , , ,

Are you listening to me?

This is normally said in exasperation when a child has not jumped into action at the first time of telling.  It is often swiftly followed by I won’t tell you again… which may mean either I will tell you again (ad nauseam) or I will give you a slap!

So we expect children to listen to us – and to pick up on the many different ways we say things, together with interpreting the idioms, the hints, the sarcasm, the teasing, the facial expression and tone of voice. And we expect them to know we always talk sense, unless of course we’re talking nonsense on purpose as a game.

Sadly, however, adults often forget to extend the same trust towards children that they are talking sense – from their knowledge and viewpoint. So the adult may say or imply the child is talking rubbish because the adult forgot to extend the courtesy of trying to make sense of the child’s utterance.

1. Adult showing photo of large truck: What’s this?

Child (confidently): Bigwig.

Adult hasn’t seen the right TV show to interpret this as big rig and reacts as if child is talking nonsense.

2. Child: Why bus stopped?

Adult: More people are getting on.

Child: No bus-stop there.

Adult: We can’t see the bus-stop.   [It’s too near the side of the double-decker bus to be seen from the top deck.]

Long pause.

Child: Are there clear bus-stops?

Adult (puzzled): What? No.   [And does not think the child might have thought that the bus-stop can’t be seen because it’s clear like clear glass!]

If we as adults expect children to be saying something sensible, and take the blame if we don’t understand, then real communication may take place. If we don’t take the trouble to think What could this child be trying to express? then the opportunity will pass by (a) to gain insight into a child’s thought processes, and (b) to demonstrate understanding by making a sensible reply which may include a model of how it could have been said better.

Idioms are fairly confusing for children and foreigners alike!   These set phrases can’t be turned around or changed – that is proscribed by our linguistic rules.

Child: I didn’t see the squirrel.

Adult: You didn’t look properly.

Child: I did.   I peeled my eyes.

Adult: Oh well. Next time we’ll both keep our eyes peeled and we’ll be sure to see it.

(This helpful adult understood the child had attempted to use an idiom. Instead of saying You’ve got that wrong, the adult used the idiom correctly in her own speech – providing a modelled example.)

If you are involved with a child who tries to communicate but is very hard to follow, try to spend at least some time with pictures or a game where the content is in front of you both! The hardest remarks to understand are likely to occur when the child launches into a stream of talk including names and events you know nothing about. And the child nearly always knows you don’t understand when you make remarks pretending that you do!

Posted in Child language, Helping children understand, Promoting language development, Teaching | Tagged , ,

2-word and 3-word levels

It may not sound much but…

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Posted in Child language, Grammar | Tagged