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Strategies For Increasing Auditory and Visual Comprehension of Language

Contributed by Marisa Lapish (author of Straight Talk Fall 1994)

1. Comprehension of spoken paragraphs: Read aloud a story to the child, one paragraph at a time. Use a slower rate of reading with a louder voice to emphasize nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Insert pauses before an important story detail comes to set off the phrase and to let the child know auditorily that this is important to remember. After each paragraph is read aloud in this manner, ask questions regarding details (who, what, where, when, why , how ,etc.) and keep a tally of responses. When responses are incorrect, reread the sentence containing the correct response in isolation (using vocal cues) and ask again. You may want to have the child repeat the entire sentence aloud before answering the question again. As child does better at this task on a consistent basis, decrease vocal cues and increase to reading two paragraphs at a time.

2. Comprehension of written paragraphs: If the child is a reader, have him highlight or underline with a marker the important details in the paragraph. These will include mostly nouns, verbs and adjectives and adverbs. Check the underlined words to see if these indeed are the most important details, or if any were missed or should not have been underlined. Bring these to his attention. Then ask questions regarding details (who, what, where, when, how, and why) and have the child answer these without looking at the text.

3. Have the child re-tell the entire story in proper sequence with essential details. This may be done orally, in written form, or in picture form for the younger child.

4. When reading aloud, all unfamiliar vocabulary should be discussed in detail giving an appropriate definition of the word, synonyms, opposites, descriptive language, and then using the word in context in a sentence. The seven analytical Questions (Murphy and O'Donnal, 1974) are great for nouns.

a. Where is it? e. What is it made up of?

b. What does it do? f. What does it look like?

c. What color is it? g. What else can you say

d. How does it feel? about it?

Later ask the child to use the word in his own novel sentence.