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Guesses and Describes Program for Advanced Language Learners


So your learner has mastered feature, function, and class on the intraverbal level. That’s awesome. But now what can you do? We created a program just for advanced language learners called, ‘Guesses and Describes.’ 

This is an example of what the Guesses and Describes program looks like:

ABA Professional: “I’m thinking of a type of food that you eat, it’s red, and it’s crunchy.”

Advanced Learner: “Hmmm, it’s not strawberry. Is it an apple?”

ABA Professional: “It’s an apple, you got it! That’s amazing.”

How to Know a Student is Ready for an Advanced Language Learners Program

The prerequisite for this program is really the mastery of feature, function, and class. You can’t describe something without knowing what category it’s in, what the function of it is, and some features about it. 

The goal is for the learner to be able to first be able to guess from what someone else is describing. And then for them to be able to describe an item using things like feature, function, and class. 

So what’s really cool about this is that if we’re doing this program, we don’t need any mastered programs running in the background. This is maintenance right here.

Want to grab all of the materials for the Guesses and Describes program? Sign up to become a Pro Member at the link below.

How to Run a Guesses and Describes Program

The very first step of this program is literally just giving the student a bunch of flashcards and having them just label the category. Because what typically happens if I say to a learner, “tell me about this,” they’re going to say “ball”. So instead, I’m going to just teach them the category. They pick up a card and say what the category is: toy, clothing, food, animal, etc.

We might take turns back and forth doing that, we might play it as the cards are down on the table, and they have to pick it up, look at it and say “animal” before they say the name of what it is. 

And then they can add on to it. So I’m really just forward chaining. First it’s category, then function. Say I hold up a banana. It’s food, so the function is that you eat it. So there’s always a pattern to this. Then after that, I’m going to forward chain again and add a third component on which is the feature. This is a toy. You bounce it, you throw it, and it’s round. 

Benefits of the Guesses and Describes Program

And that’s really all Guesses and Describes is. I do psychological testing with students and one of the items on these tests is answers “what is it?” questions or “describe a blank”. For example, “what is a clock?” A lot of students, even though they have a ton of language, might just go, “on the wall” and not say anything else. So by teaching this program, it can really help with that as well. 

You could do this in a fun social way using board games, 20 questions, or the game Headbands. It could be done with two peers who are playing the game with each other as a lead for maintenance and/or social language development. There’s a lot of nice goals in here. 

For students that maybe need a little bit of support or prompting with the language involved, we do have a visual that can help support them to remember to say first a category and then a function and then a feature. Make sure to join our Pro Membership to get access to that visual as well as the entire program and datasheet. 

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