by Jessie Mewshaw, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Engaging students with language disorders in literacy activities can be challenging. These students may struggle with the pace of reading, comprehending vocabulary, understanding figurative language and inferred story components, and maintaining attention to a task that they perceive to be very difficult.
Here are 8 strategies SLPs use to make the reading process more engaging for students with language delays and disorders:
- Discuss the book title and cover illustration – make inferences with the student about the story before reading.
- Example: “The title of this book is Gabby Is Hungry. What do you think this story might be about?”
- Preview the book through a “picture walk” before you begin reading – this prepares the student for what they might encounter when reading the book and allows the student to make inferences based on illustrations.
- Example: “I see in this picture that the little girl is wearing shorts and sandals. I wonder what season it is…”
- Pause frequently during reading to discuss illustrations, define new vocabulary, explore figurative language, and check in for understanding.
- Example: “The boy ‘exclaimed.’ Huh, I wonder what that means. Let’s look at his face in this picture and figure out how he might be feeling.”
- Ask students to draw comparisons between the book and their own life experiences.
- Example: “The dog seems really scared. Can you remember a time when you felt scared?”
- Don’t ask all the questions – encourage the student to ask questions, too.
- When a student struggles with decoding and/or reading fluency, comprehension of information is sacrificed – re-read what the student has read to give them a chance to comprehend the text without the added pressure of decoding and reading fluency.
- Make reading fun! Add character voices, make sound effects, use props, etc.
- Praise, praise, praise – students are more likely to try a difficult task when they are praised for their successes and hard work.
- Example: “I love that you read that whole book with me! I can’t wait to read together again.”