Listed below are a variety of techniques that you can use to expand and encourage correct and more mature language production. You may find that you are already doing many of these naturally. Many of these techniques are geared towards younger children or children who are at the earlier stages of acquiring language; however, there are some techniques you can apply to higher level language students.
Highlighting - Emphasize the words your child leaves out of sentences or misuses by saying the words louder with a different pitch. This also works with misarticulated words - repeat the word by overemphasizing the correct sound. This technique models and encourages correct speech and language skills without having your child become frustrated by constantly repeating you.
Ex: "SHE dropped HER spoon."
Self-Talk - Talk to your child about what you are doing while you are doing it, as long as your child is interested.
Ex: "I am stirring the soup." "Now I am taking out the shampoo so I can wash your hair."
Parallel Talk - Talk to your child about what he/she is doing while he/she is doing it.
Ex: "You are eating an apple." "You threw the ball to John."
Expansion - When your child gestures, vocalizes, or uses words or sentences, expand the communication into a more adult-like utterance.
Ex: "Yes, Daddy is coming down the stairs” in response to a child pointing and saying “Daddy"
Expansion Plus - Expand your child's utterances and then add some more information.
Ex: "Uh-h, the truck is broken. The wheel came off." in response to child's "Truck broke."
Description - Talk to your child about what he/she sees while he/she sees it, by describing it without reference to the child.
Ex: "The soup is hot." "That's a tall tree."
Waiting - Give your child time to respond to your utterances. It may take time for your child to formulate a response or locate the right articulators. Allowing additional time for a response takes the pressure off of the child. Use body language and facial expressions to show that you expect a response.
Ex. "Do you want more?" (pause while maintaining eye contact) Child: "More"
Forced Choices - Rather than asking your child a broad question or a yes/no question, ask him/her a forced- choice question.
Ex: "Do you want an apple or crackers?"
Defining - expand on your child’s utterances by introducing and defining different words. You can also provide synonyms/antonyms to expand vocabulary.
Ex: Child: "Big truck." Adult: “Yes, that big truck is a fire truck. It is used to put out fires
and help people in an emergency.”
Child: “That is really dirty.” Adult: “Yes, the counter is very messy. It is not clean. Let’s wipe it down to make it clean.”
Slow Rate - Model slow, clear and coherent sentences when speaking with your child, if he/she is working on these skills. It can be difficult to slow down and be mindful of the way you talk especially with all we have going on, but you are your child’s best language model!
Crystal Hutchins, MS/CCCslp