Special Education Teachers as Speech/Language Support--Who Knew

If your like me, you have students who need more language support than your speech/language pathologist has time for. In Colorado, I have two speech/language learning disabilities that cross over from speech to academics but knowing what to do if half the battle.  My plan/hope over the summer is to find ways to build language into my lessons. 


Oral expression pertains to the use of words and includes the ability to formulate and produce words and sentences with appropriate vocabulary, grammar and application of conversational rules.
A student’s oral expression skills are essential to their learning and academic success.  Oral expression problems in students may result in literacy problems.  Students with poor oral expression, may not perform at grade level because of their struggle with reading, difficulty understanding and expressing language, and the fact that they may misunderstand social cues. Oral expression is about the student’s ability to express ideas, explain thinking (critical in math), retell stories, and contrast and compare concepts or ideas.  

Characteristics of Oral Expression

The following may be exhibited by those children who demonstrate oral expression difficulties:
  • Difficulty with the grammatical processes of inflection, marking categories like person, tense, and case (e.g., the –s in jumps marks the third‐person singular in the present tense), and derivation, the formation of new words from existing words (e.g. acceptable from accept)
  • Learning vocabulary
  • Difficulty formulating complete, semantically and grammatically correct sentences either spoken or written
  • Difficulty explaining word associations, antonyms/synonyms
  • Difficulty with retelling, making inferences, and predictions

Definition and Implications of Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension refers to the understanding of the implications and explicit meanings of words and sentences of spoken language.  Listening comprehension often seen with difficulties in written language and in the auditory processing of oral information. Students with problems processing and interpreting spoken sentences frequently can experience difficulties in mastering syntactic structures both receptively as well as expressively. Although students appear to perceive and interpret the words used in spoken sentences, building oral language is important to ensure they build sentence level comprehension.
Characteristics of Listening Comprehension
  • Children experiencing listening comprehension difficulties may exhibit the following:
  • Difficulty with following directions for seatwork and projects
  • Difficulty remembering homework assignments
  • Difficulty with understanding oral narratives and text
  • Difficulty answering questions about the content of the information given
  • Difficulty with critical thinking to arrive at logical answers
  • Difficulty with word associations, antonyms/synonyms, categorizing, and classifying
  • Difficulty with note‐taking or dictation  
Intervention and Progress Monitoring
The speech‐language pathologist can provide both direct and consultative services in collaboration with the classroom teachers, resource teachers and interventionists in developing intervention strategies that will include explicit skills‐training in the areas of oral expression and/or listening comprehension as key to some students’ access to the curriculum.

Providing structured opportunities for students to participate in social interactions, such as giving them “helping” roles or having them “talk through” an activity involving a successfully learned skill, reinforces oral expression skills.  Working on beginning, middle and end to organize narratives as well as in the retelling of stories fosters oral expression development.

The direct teaching of listening strategies is important to improving listening comprehension. Particularly effective is cuing the student to keep their eyes on the speaker, make a picture in their head, ask for clarification, and internalize directions by repeating them to themselves.  Modeling and demonstration is essential with students of all ages.

An example of progress monitoring of an oral expression and/or listening comprehension intervention would be correct identification of picture cards of specific targeted vocabulary being taught.  The desired result should be that the student’s correct labeling/identification of the target vocabulary increase with each collection of data to be analyzed (progress monitoring).  
The targeted intervention needs to be systematic and explicit in its delivery and progress monitoring.

I'm planning to reach out to my SLP this summer, to beginning co-planning how to target our more intensive students.  We are hoping with deliberate programming, we can make big strides with this kiddos. Stay turned for some fun short ideas that you can use in your groups!


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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