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Speech and Language Classroom Strategies:

Classroom Strategies for Language…… …………………… ……………….…2

Vocabulary and Word Meanings………………………………………………… …………………………………….3

Following Directions, Processing Information and Word Meanings…………………………………………………………………………….4-5

Grammar/Sentence Structure…………………………………………………………6

Content, Meaning and Basic Concepts…………………………………………7-8

Expanding Limited Expressive Language Skills


Social Communication…………………………………………………………………… 10

Articulation and Phonology……………………………………………………… 11-12



Please contact Alison Russell, Speech-Language Pathologist for additional information!


Classroom Strategies for Students with Language Difficulty

When developing these strategies, efforts were made to address the most common areas of needs. Please note that all suggestions may not be appropriate for every student and you may need to modify them on an individual basis.

1. Preferential seating: student with language disorder sits in the front

a. Monitor that your student understood directions and is paying attention

2. Separate your student with a language impairment from potentially disruptive children

a. If your student is distracted by their neighbor they will not be listening to you

3. Allow extra time to complete work

a. It's a good idea to allow the child with language

processing difficulties extra time to complete a set work assignment. Often, because of distractions or slow handwriting or problems in decoding text, children with language difficulties tend to struggle to get set work finished

4. Visual Routine, Graphic Organizers, Daily Planners

a. Strict routines, that students can follow, can be

effective classroom strategies, especially if students have a history of poor organizational skills. Children with language difficulty tend to be the ones who 'forget' to do, homework or fail to take homework home, or lose their jumper or their hat, etc. b. A planner is a useful way to ensure that the child with language impairment is on the same page as you. The clear information that a visual sequence of events can make is worth the little extra work needed to complete one. A visual reminder of the day's events can make a big difference to a child's daily organization


Vocabulary and Word Meanings:

1. Prior to introducing new units/stories complete a list of key vocabulary words. Discuss words and possible meaning with students. (Give words to Speech Pathologist or Intervention Specialist to pre-teach or review with the student).

2. Teach vocabulary in context

3. When introducing new words, try using a graphic organizer,

visual mapping, word webs, word maps, student drawings, to come up with word relationships including discussing antonyms or synonyms, categories.

4. When possible pair a visual picture (or gestures, objects, etc.) with the vocabulary words. When vocabulary is abstract and pictures are not available, try to relate the words to a personal experience for students to relate to.

5. Use demonstration paired with student interaction/movement to act out meaning.

6. Use examples/acting out, pictures and multiple modalities to teach figurative language and multiple meanings.

7. Place words and definitions on note cards. Use cards to play games such as matching or memory.

8. Use peer instruction/cooperative groups.

9. Create word lists with vocabulary and definitions to display in a visible place within the classroom.

10.Encourage use of word-games that target vocabulary with family (Headbands, Tribond, Apples to Apples Jr., etc.)


Following Directions/Processing Information/Comprehension:

Following Directions:

1. When giving directions, repeat them again using different words.

2. Use gestures when giving directions can be helpful.

3. If there are several directions, give one or two directions at a time versus all at one time.

4. Be specific.

5. If possible, give a visual cue. For example, if making an activity you can demonstrate the steps as you go along. Showing the completed project would also provide them assistance.

6. When working with projects that have mutli-step directions, it may be helpful to write the directions on the board.

7. Create a list of common directions that are used throughout the day. When needed, they can be laminated and place on the board for the entire class, or can be smaller to be placed on the individual’s desk.

8. The student may benefit from sitting next to an individual who would be willing to provide assistance with multi-step tasks.

Processing Information:

1. Ask basic questions that have the answer in a picture or hands-on activity.

2. Provide small group opportunities where the children can discuss newly learned concepts or ideas

3. Provide adequate time for the child to process what you have asked them and form their answer. If the child does not respond after a given period of time, ask the question in a different way.

4. Use several modalities when teaching materials (speaking, reading, writing, listening, visual, hands-on.)


5. Do frequency comprehension checks when teaching. Stop periodically and discuss the information you have presented.

6. Encourage the students to ask for help.

7. Provide additional support for writing down information, such as assignments in the student’s homework notebook. Actual pictures could also be taken of what needs to go home. Some students may need written directions on how to complete assignments so that parents can assist them in the home.


1. Ensure the student’s attention

2. Use slower rate of speaking

3. Present information in smaller steps or chunks

4. Use a variety of games i.e. Bingo, Simon Says, 20 Questions

5. Before presenting information, tell the student what to listen for

6. Rephrase/paraphrase auditory information

7. Have the student repeat the information

8. Ask the students a variety of WH questions

9. Use a story map, graphic organizer, student drawing, etc. to increase understanding

10.Break stories into smaller units and ask questions

11. Teach story elements, character, setting, problem, etc.

12.Review, discuss and paraphrase main idea


Grammar/Sentence Structure:

1. Model correct grammatical forms: if the child says something incorrectly, repeat it for them correctly in a natural way. Be sensitive about not drawing negative attention to their language. For example, if the child says, “I goed to the store.” You’d say, “oh, you went to the store.”

2. When the child’s speech or writing contains grammar or word order errors, show them in writing the correct form.

3. During classroom work/assignments, have the student repeat correct grammatical forms.

4. Observe if the student can self-correct when reminded:

when working with the child individually with written or oral language, repeat the error and ask the child how the sentence sounds. For example, the child says or writes, “I goed to the store? Does that sound right?” If the child is unable to correct it give them a choice. For example, “Which sounds better, ‘I goes to the store.’ Or ‘I went to the store.’?

5. For frequently occurring errors, build it into daily oral language as practice for the entire class.

6. Have the student construct oral sentences with targeted grammar structures.

7. Encourage students to use complete/complex sentences when answering questions.

8. Encourage use of relative and subordinate clauses, i.e. but, and, or, either, if whenever, however, etc.

9. Have students practice daily oral language sentence orally and provide feedback.


Content, Meaning and Basic Concept Understanding and Use:

Oral Expression for Content and Meaning:

1. Help students summarize information

2. Use gestures or visual cues ordering for, first, second, third

3. Help student identify main topic

4. Stop student when rambling and direct to main topic

5. Use visual organizers/story maps

6. Help students sequence events by asking what happened, first, second, next, etc.

7. Emphasize/Encourage student’s use of sequential words during retelling of a story

8. Provide opportunity for students to orally retell story to peers/teacher

9. Have students use specific vocabulary to relate information, rather than using words such as thing, stuff, that, it, etc.

Basic Concepts - Pre-K – 1 st Grade:

1. Provide visual demonstration of the concept. For example, if working on the concept ‘n,’ actually put the item ‘on’ a table.

2. Have the children physically demonstrate the concept when possible. Have the student get ‘on’ a carpet square.

3. Let the student use objects to demonstrate comprehension of the concept. Have the student verbalize comprehension by explaining what they did with the object. ‘Where did you put the bear?’ ‘I put it on the table.’

4. Have the student use the concept in a variety of situations throughout the day. Use their bodies, pencil and paper, in different places of the school, etc.

5. Keep a running list of concepts the student is having trouble with an utilize others (i.e. speech pathologist, intervention specialists, classroom aids, volunteers, student teachers, etc.)


Basic Concepts -2 nd -5 th Grade:

1. Allow students to use manipulatives to solve math problems to give them a visual cue.

2. When working on time and measurement concepts use visual organizers (i.e. timelines, thermometers, graphic organizers, etc.)

3. Keep a running list of concepts the student is having trouble with an utilize others (i.e. speech pathologist, intervention specialists, classroom aids, volunteers, student teachers, etc.)

4. Give students time to talk through new concepts in social studies, science, math, etc.


Expanding Limited Expressive Language Skills:

1. When interacting with a young child, repeat what the child says, and add a word that is appropriate to the context. For example, while playing with a toy car, the child says “car”, you could respond “Car. Go car.” If the child uses two words – expand to three words, etc.

2. Speak in sentences that are one or two words longer than the child’s typical utterances. In the child usually combines two words, you should be modeling 3-4 words in your interactions. You may feel that your speech sounds silly, you are eliminating complex structures that the child is not ready to use, which allows the child to concentrate on the next level of development.

3. It is also important to expose the child to adult and peer models of conversation. Although, they are not yet ready to use these structures, they are exposed to the appropriate models.

4. Introduce new words or concepts to a child by using the word in a variety of situations as well as using the word repetitively. For example, when teaching colors: show a blue ball, a blue car, the blue sky, etc. Also, use pictures or objects when available to help reinforce the ideas.

5. Music, movement, nursery rhymes, finger plays, and story time are very motivation times for children to promote spontaneous speech production.


Social Communication:

1. Model appropriate response or social interaction.

2. Allow extra time for student to formulate and express responses.

3. Provide opportunities to:

a. Ask questions

b. Initiate and maintain a conversation

c. Give sufficient information

d. Give cause and effect information

e. Use language to make choices and express needs

f. Use problem solving/decision making techniques

g. Practice with peers in appropriate learning groups

4. Allow student to role play a variety of targeted social language situations.

5. Emphasize basic social skills, i.e. greeting, eye contact, polite forms, body language, spatial boundaries throughout school day.

6. Use verbal/visual/physical cues to remind student to use appropriate social behavior in a variety of settings.

7. Allow student to work in a group with students who are accepting and supportive.

8. Avoid having activities where students pick a partner. Assign partners instead to avoid feelings of rejections.

9. Search for opportunities that support appropriate social interactions (i.e. ‘Bobby, will you please go to Sue’s desk and ask her to bring me her Math folder.’)

10. Board games and card games can be beneficial as they promote turn taking and sportsmanship.

11. Comment on positive models for targeted social skill when used by other students in the classroom. (Jenny, I really like how you raised your hand instead of interrupting me when I was talking to the class).

12. Contact the speech therapist to assist in creating social stories (stories written to positively depict a social situation in which a student has a difficult time) or visual schedule.


Articulation and Phonology:

1. If you cannot understand a student and you have asked them to repeat themselves, it might be helpful to ask the student to show you or say it in a different way. Have students whom are able, write it down.

2. If the student’s response contains a known sound error, it’s important to repeat what the child said with an appropriate model (e.g. if the child says ‘nak’ for snake, you would say, “OH, you want the snake”). This way you are not focusing on the error or calling negative attention to the child, but providing an appropriate model.

3. With younger children bring whatever you are talking about closer to our mouth so that the child is more apt to focus on speech production.

4. If you hear a consistent speech sound error use written text to increase the child’s ability to see, hearing and be aware of that sound (e.g. ask the student to find all of the words containing the error sound in a page of a story. Make this a routine in your classroom so that no student is singled out).

5. If you have a student who is able to make a sound correctly some of the time when they know an adult is listening, se up a non-verbal cue with that child to let them know you are listening (e.g. putting your hand on the student’s shoulder before you call on them to read, or taping a sign on their desk, folder, back of chair to remind them throughout the day.)

6. Highlight words in their own writing or in classroom worksheets of sounds that the child is misarticulating.


7. Have students make cards with different words/pictures containing their target sounds (this can be spelling words, new vocabulary). Use cards for a variety of activities, for example, keep a jar or folder on the teacher’s desk. Student selects 5 cards and practices saying each twice.


8. Create stations/centers where students have to perform different tasks while practicing sounds. For example, a child at the board could practice saying the sound while drawing and another student practices by putting a puzzle together. Teacher indicates students would move to a new station by saying, “switch.”

9. “Mix it Up” Game: Students play a game by drawing cards which contain different suggestions for saying the words such as whispering, singing, saying the words quickly or slowly, while dancing, saying and spelling the target word. Student practices saying the word in the manner the card indicates.

10. Have the students go around the table and say the same

thing (one at a time). This will cue them into monitoring their speech as well as others. You could also have the students provide feedback to each other.

11. Another way to emphasize the feedback loop is to use an echo microphone for each student’s turn.

12.Have the students draw a number from an envelope to determine the random number of items to say. Use the word/picture cards that students have created. 13.Teacher can monitor student’s production of a target sound during small group activities.



1. Ask speech therapist for additional handouts and assistance in the classroom!

2. Allow the student to complete his/her thoughts without interrupting or completing the sentence for them.

3. It is important not to ask the child to stop or start over their sentence. Asking the student to ‘take a breath’ or ‘relax’ can be felt as demeaning and is not helpful.

4. Maintain natural eye contact with the student. Try not to feel embarrassed or anxious as the student will pick up on your feelings and could become more anxious. Wait naturally until the child is finished.

5. Use a slow and relaxed rate with your own speech, but not so slow that you sound unnatural. Using pauses in your speech is an effective way tot slow down your speech rate as well as the students.

6. Give the student your full attention when they are speaking so that they know you are listening to what they have to say. It is helpful that the child does not feel that they need to fight for your attention.

7. After a student completes a conversational turn, it would be helpful for you to rephrase what they said in a fluent manner. This can be helpful as the student realizes you

understand what they said but also provides a fluent model form them.

8. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening

9. Try to call on the students in class when you feel that they will be successful with the answer (when the student raises their hand) versus putting the student on the spot. In addition, new material or complex information may cause the student to feel more stress and thus, increase dysfluencies.

10.If possible, provide preparation time before calling on a student to read (i.e. give advanced notice, “Johnny please read the first page, then I’d like Time to read the second


page (Tim is the students who stutters). Consider allowing students to read out loud in pairs (takes the pressure off the student who stutters and allow him/her to become more confident with practice). 11. Have a one on one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom 12.Don’t make stuttering something to be ashamed of. Talk about stuttering just like any other manner.


Vocal Quality:

* For students whose vocal quality is consistently poor (hoarse, breathy, rough, or have no voice) or their vocal quality gets progressively worse as the day wears on. Discuss strategies of water/candy with school officials and parents before implementing.

1. Allow them to have a water bottle at their desk for the students to take frequent sips of.

2. Discuss healthy ways for students to use their voices, i.e. drink water, no caffeine, no yelling or making strange noises, or to use a quiet voice, but NOT to whisper.

3. Provide a positive comment to a student for using good vocal hygiene, such as not shouting to get attention.

4. Place a visual cue on students’ desk (like a picture of someone talking). When you hear vocal misuse, touch the picture on the desk to help remind the student to use good vocal techniques.

Vocal Hygiene Strategies (adapted from capital health):

General Strategies for Healthy Voice Use

Classroom discussion of good vocal habits. Teacher models good vocal habits, such as close proximity to listener. Reduce background noise in classroom.



Yells, screams or cheers loudly

Classroom discussion of good vocal habits. Have student clap, gesture or make hand signals instead of yelling. Use visual aids/poster to remind student to use appropriate voice. Teacher provides cues to remind student to use appropriate voice.

Clears throat and coughs frequently

Have student try to swallow or take sips of cold water instead. Provide hard candy to keep throat moistened.


Talks loudly: trying to talk over noise such as loud music, TV, and outside noises can strain your voice.

Try to reduce background noise. Have student get close and face the listener when talking in loud places. Instruct the student to use “inside voice”

Makes strange or unusual sounds with voice while laying, such as loud airplanes, trucks, and animal sounds

Encourage student to make non-vocal sounds instead

Whispers too much. Whispering causes ou to push harder, and strain your vocal folds.

Have student use quiet talking voice instead

Talks a lot when he/she has a cold, is ill or overtired

Have student drink plenty of fluids, use a quiet voice, and take voice breaks/vocal rest. Avoid caffeinated drinks.