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Reading to Promote Language

I absolutely loved reading as a child. I was the classic book worm growing up. I stayed up late to read by flashlight, read at the dinner table, and I even took pride in reading a whole book a day almost every day during the summer! I have distinct memories from when my parents would read to me before bed every night, the book programs they registered me for, and the scholastic book fair. Although this is not a book appreciation post, one thing that I want to highlight is the importance of books and reading.

How to read with your client or child promote language?

Beginner Skills

When introducing beginner skills, our goal is to model language that is simple and familiar.

Start where the learner is at – use books with lots of pictures that are familiar to the learner (they are likely to come into contact with in their environment), and simple words to identify the pictures.

Use 1–2-word phrases, while pointing at the picture in the book. Give a pause to see if the learner will repeat, without the expectation that the learner has to say anything.

Beginner Goals:

Receptive labels: Pointing to pictures in books “show me ball” *learner points to ball*
Expressive labels: Asking “what is it?” *learner responds with label [ball]*
Joint Attention: Follows a point “look” *learner looks at what you are pointing to*

Intermediate Skills

With intermediate skills, we want to continue modeling language, but now we want to scaffold on skills the learner currently has in their repertoire. Making and reciprocating comments, expanding mean length of utterances, and discriminating the SD are all part of intermediate goals.

We want to add more words to their phrases by building on the labels currently have in their repertoire.
Example: instead of ‘ball’, we might model ‘big ball’, or ‘big red ball’, etc.

Intermediate Goals:

Commenting “I see…”, “look! It’s a …”, etc.
Features: “what has petals, leaf, and a stem”
Functions: “find something you can throw”
Class: “where is the vehicle”
Counting: “how many flowers are there?”
Sequencing: “how do you fly a kite?”
Wh- Questions: “who is flying the kite?”

Advanced Skills

With advanced skills, areas to focus on include conversation skills, inferencing, and logical reasoning. The goal is less about answering questions and rote memorizing answers, but more about expanding comprehension, initiating and engaging in conversation, and thinking beyond the text.

Advanced Goals:

What happens next?
What do you think will happen if…?
Have you ever…?
Why did they …?
Tell me a time that you (did something similar).
This reminds me of a time/book/etc.



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