Effective support strategies to support speech and language in the classroom

There are lots of simple but effective ways to support a student with speech/language difficulties in the classroom. The Outreach Team provide a valuable advisory role to mainstream schools to support these learners.

Here are some simple strategies that are often recommended :-

  • simplify verbal and written language
  • reduce the volume of verbal and written language
  • provide modified worksheets
  • preferential seating – seat student at front of classroom near teacher and board
  • provide a low stimulus environment
  • cue the student to attend and listen
  • face the student when giving verbal info/instructions
  • provide clear, explicit, concise, simple language – repeat and rephrase instructions if necessary
  • break tasks into more manageable steps
  • give additional time to process instructions/information
  • provide visual cues in addition to verbal instructions
  • demonstrate where possible
  • brainstorm ideas as a group at the commencement of tasks
  • use Blank’s levels of questioning
  • use mind mapping to sort, categorise and group information (words, ideas, pictures linked together and linked around a theme or idea)
  • use graphic organisers to ‘classify ideas and communicate more effectively… to structure writing projects, to help in problem solving, decision making, studying, planning research and brainstorming’  – eg. see http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/
  • ask questions – to stimulate interest and thoughts and to generate ideas
  • check level of understanding
  • provide concrete materials then expand to more abstract
  • encourage student to seek help – provide information re who/ where/how to get help
  • practise orals initially with teacher or school assistant
  • provide opportunity to present orals with teacher only
  • avoid having student read in front of the whole class
  • pre teach vocabulary and concepts
  • provide clear and consistent behavioural expectations and consequences
  • explicitly teach social rules and appropriate language to use with peers
  • give choices
  • support transitions
  • help with organising – timetables, checklists, prioritising tasks, colour coding timetables and books, time for clean up and organising, naming items
  • focus on interests
  • provide opportunity to word process work as opposed to handwriting
  • provide a scribe if necessary
  • provide a positive and inclusive classroom environment
  • give positive feedback and praise
  • learn about the student from the student
  • focus on strengths and successes
  • share this information as well as ideas and tips with other teachers
  • gradually withdraw support to encourage independence

If you know of a student at a mainstream school who could benefit from an Outreach visit please go to the Let’s Talk link, then the Outreach link where you can download a referral form for this service.  The Outreach Team is funded by NSO (non-schools organisation) to support students who are verified SLI, or verified ASD or II but have major speech/language difficulties.

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