Language Disorder Accommodations

This year, I have a couple of students who have significant Expressive Language Disorders. In their case language skills almost 4 years behind their chronological ago. This makes it tough as these guys have begun to move into the intermediate grade. This is a list of things that I have share with classroom teachers so that they can keep in mind as they plan and incorporate into your classroom in a meaningful way.

Expressive language refers to the use of spoken language. A student with an expressive language disorder is unable to communicate thoughts, needs or wants at the same level or with the same complexity as his or her same-aged peers. Students with an expressive language disorder may understand most language but are unable to use this language in sentences. Difficulties with the pronunciation of words may or may not be present. Expressive language disorders are a broad category and often overlap with other disabilities or conditions.

These guys have difficulties with word-finding difficulties, limited vocabulary, overuse of non-specific words like “thing” or “stuff,” over reliance on stock phrases, and difficulty “coming to the point” of what they are trying to say.


1. Modeling
When asked a question, a student with expressive language disorder may provide you with an incomplete sentence. If you were to ask what they saw at the zoo, the student may respond with "tiger." The best thing to do is to model back a full and correct sentence, such as "I saw a tiger." You do not have to have the students repeat the sentence; just hearing the words in the correct order will help.

2. Choices
When you are asking students with expressive language disorder questions, instead of asking them to form their own sentences, give them choices. Following our zoo example, instead of asking "what did you see at the zoo?" you might ask the student "did you see the lions or the tigers when you were at the zoo?" This takes the stress off of the student to make up their own sentence from scratch.

3. Visuals
Place visuals around your classroom to help remind students of words that they could use. Students with expressive language disorder have difficulties remembering words, so seeing them posted may help.

4. Slow down
This is for you and the student. When you are speaking, slow down and model good speech for the student. When the student is speaking, remind them to slow down and make sure that their sentences are complete. This should increase the students self monitoring skills.

5. Time
Let the student know if you are planning on calling on them. This will give them time to think of a response. When the student is talking, allow them the time that they need.

6. Accommodations
Students with expressive language disorder may require different accommodations. If your student is more comfortable with writing their assignments, or with verbalizing the answers, you should allow them to do this. Try things like word prediction software.

Implications for Instruction
  • Repeat back what the student has said, modelling the correct pronunciation, word form or sentence structure. It is unnecessary to ask the student to repeat the correct form after you; what is important is that the student hears the correct form.
  • Provide the student with choices of correct grammar, sentence structure or word choice to help them process the correct form or word to use. For example: “Is it a giraffe or an elephant?”, “If it’s a boy, is it he or she?”
  • Be patient when the student is speaking; not rushing a student who has expressive language difficulties will reduce frustration levels.
  • Use visuals to support expressive language skills. Pictures or written cues can be used to prompt the student to use a longer utterance or initiate a phrase within a specific situation or activity.
  • Help build the student’s vocabulary by creating opportunities for focusing on language processing skills, such as sorting and grouping, similarities and differences.
  • Help students connect new words and information to pre-existing knowledge.
  • Use visuals, symbols or photos to help students organize and communicate their thoughts.
  • To facilitate students’ speech intelligibility and expressive language skills, encourage them to slow down while speaking and face their communication partner.
  • Provide descriptive feedback for students when the message is not understood. For example: “You were talking too fast, I didn’t understand where you said you were going after school.” This will also improve the students self-monitoring skills.
Implications for Planning and Awareness
  • Meet with the student and parents early in the school year to discuss how the school can support the student’s needs. This could include finding out about: the student’s strengths, interests and areas of need successful communication strategies used at home or in the community that could also be used at school.
  • Learn as much as you can about how expressive language affects learning and social and emotional well-being. Reading, asking questions and talking to a qualified speech-language pathologist will build your understanding and help you make decisions on how to support the student’s success in the classroom.
  • Review any specialized assessments available, including the most recent speech-language report and the recommendations listed.
  • Collaborate with the school and/or jurisdictional team to identify and coordinate any needed consultation, supports such as speech therapy, or augmentative communication and assessments.

Unfortunately students with expressive language disorder may only experience social problems because of they cannot effectively communicate their ideas and feelings. Here are some strategies you can use as a to help students with expressive language disorder.

1. Conversations
Students with expressive language disorder may need to be reminded to participate appropriately in conversations. Things like greeting people, answering and asking questions, starting or maintaining a conversation are all things that you may work on with your student.

2. Skills
There are certain communication skills that we may take for granted that a student with expressive language disorder may struggle with. Teaching these students to do things like read body language is important. Role playing can be used, or story telling.

Implications for Social and Emotional Well-being
  • Engage the student and parents in planning for transitions between grade levels, different schools and out of school.
  • The student may have difficulty with social and conversational skills. Teach the language to use in specific social communication situations, such as:
    • greeting people and starting a conversation
    • asking and answering questions
    • asking for help or clarification.
  • Explicitly teach social communication skills, such as how to read body language and expressions. Use direct instruction along with modelling, storytelling and role-play.
  • Provide support in transitioning from one activity or place to another. Cues, routines and purposeful activity during transitions may be helpful so that the student clearly understands what to do.
As a teacher who has had student graduate from Lakewood High School, I have to share their wonderful Lip Dub they created this year. Way to go Tigers!! There Roar will put a smile on your face. Have a great week

Lakewood High School Lip Dub 2013 - Roar from Lakewood High School on Vimeo.


Post a Comment

About Me

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.
Follow on Bloglovin
Special Ed. Blogger

I contribute to:

Search This Blog