How to Use Magnets to Promote Language Development
Want to help AAC learners accelerate their receptive vocabularies? Here’s one quick and easy step in the right direction: Talk to them. We’re not trying to be snarky here. The truth is that we speak less to people who are minimally verbal than we do to people who talk. In general, kids with AAC needs hear far less language than speaking children do. Fewer words heard means fewer opportunities to learn language. That’s a cycle worth breaking.
When we’re around typically developing children, they’re always asking questions. “What’s in the bag, Mom?” “Why is she doing that?” “How come Billy gets to have one and I don’t?” “Where are we going?” “Are we there yet?”
Kids ask lots of questions, particularly in the early years. Annoying? Sometimes. Valuable? Always. From a language learning perspective, those pesky questions serve a very useful purpose: they invite (or demand) a linguistic response. They are magnets that attract language. And that’s just what a language learner needs…lots of language input.
We like to call questions like those ‘language magnets’ because they attract answers. Answers from competent language models (for the most part). Answers with familiar and unfamiliar words. Answers that let them connect less familiar words to the surrounding context. Answers that expand their linguistic horizons.
We can help people who use AAC have this same experience by ensuring that they have adequate access to questions that invite language. The messages can be put on a non-electronic communication aid (like a communication board, PODD book, or eye gaze board), an SGD, or a mobile device with an AAC app. Here are some ideas for “language magnets” to get us started.
What’s that? What is it?
What’s next? What are you/we going to do?
What’s going on? What happened?
What were you thinking? What made you do that?
Where are they? Where are we going?
When will I see you again? We can we do that?
When is he/she coming?
How did that happen? How does that work?
How come he/she isn’t here?
Who are you? Who was that? Who did it?
Why is he/she here? Why did they do/say that?
Why do I have to do that? Why can’t I?
Why did you do that? Why did that happen?
Why can’t you take me with you?
Tell me about it. Tell me more.
Could you please explain it? (again, some more) Can you explain it another way?
Would you please give me a reason (so I can understand better)?
Can you tell me a story about that?
Can you tell me about it before we start?
Can you tell me about what we just did?
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari