Thinking about Word Retrieval
We have all had the experience of talking to a friend and not being able to recall the name of the restaurant that we went to, or meeting somebody that you have met before and not being able to recall their name. We think of this experience as “It’s on the tip of my tongue.” My students experience this also, some to a much greater extent than others. As adults we know a few things that we can do to help move our conversation along. We might say that the restaurant name sounds like… or it starts with a “P” sound, or we might even begin to describe what we can remember about the restaurant such as its location, or the specialty dish that they serve. As adults we can do this because we are savvy conversationalists. For the students that are continually plagued with retrieval issues, they need to be taught ways to move through this conversational blockage.
Kids that experience word retrieval issues may seem to grope for words and have many pauses within their discourse. They may have a lot of revisions or reformulations in their speech. They may use a lot of fillers, such as “um” and “you know.” They often use a lot of general words for their intended word. They use many words such as “things” and “stuff” in their conversation and often have difficulty labeling specific nouns and verbs. Kids experiencing retrieval issues may give a word that sounds like the target word such as “strump” for “stump.” They may use a related but inaccurate word such as “leopard” for “lion.” These kids have a difficult time relating past experiences, talking about their day etc. Sometimes those with retrieval issues may use a lot of hand gestures to help convey their words and conversational meaning.
As parents of a child experiencing retrieval issues we can ask them to provide a synonym or another word that means the same thing. We can ask our child to describe the word that they are thinking of. To help our children be more word proficient we can play rhyming, opposite and word association games with them as you drive to and from daily activities. You can play timed games with them such as “Tell me all the holidays that you can think of in one minute.”
For teachers within the classroom we may be able to help our student’s retrieval issues by offering a preview of targeted lesson vocabulary so that the child is more familiar with the words. We can call on them in a group discussion when they are most likely to succeed. Providing visuals to accompany our lessons is helpful. We can offer alternate methods of responses to demonstrate their knowledge. Rather than requiring a verbal response, students can write it down, draw a picture etc. We can provide alternate methods of assessment such as multiple choice and true/false formats on tests or even offer take home tests. We can provide word banks on tests.
For more information on word retrieval you may wish to visit some of the attached links:
submitted by: Randi Weinberg