Listen, then Speak: for distance learning and telehealth by Zoom or Coviu
An oral language exercise library for children in years 2-5 (and older children with language and learning disorders)
We have released this course to support teachers and speech pathologists working with students using distance learning and telehealth technologies like Zoom or Coviu.
We are especially keen to make life easier for teachers and speech pathologists who are rapidly upskilling themselves in distance learning and telehealth delivery models; and who don't have time or ressources to develop oral language programs right now.
Oral language skills are essential for understanding, speaking, reading, and writing at school. But too many of our Year 2-5 students have poorly or unevenly developed language comprehension and/or speaking skills to equip them for ongoing success at school.
Especially in the early years, information at school is communicated primarily in spoken language: in speech. Some researchers think that younger students spend up to 65% of their school day listening to spoken language (Palmer, 1997). The ability of children to learn, whether from delivered face-to-face by teachers, or via instructional videos or other materials, is highly dependent on their ability to understand and to express themselves in speech.
As children enter their third and fourth years of schooling, the emphasis of the curriculum changes from learning to read to reading to learn. A recent 5-year longitudinal study – starting when students were in Year 2 and ending in Year 7 – found that variations in reading comprehension amongst the children were almost completely explained by differences in decoding skills and language comprehension skills. The researchers found that differences amongst the children in language comprehension were almost entirely explained (95% explained!) by differences in:
- grammar, including syntax and morpheme generation skills;
- verbal working memory; and
- inferencing skills.
Researchers also also found that oral language comprehension was a predictor of early and later growth of reading comprehension skills (Lervåg et al., 2017 – see citation below). The key findings of this study sit well with the growing body of evidence showing that improvements in oral language skills lead directly to improvements in reading comprehension, both with younger and older children (e.g. Fricke et al., 2013; Clarke et al., 2010).
What do we need to target to improve oral language comprehension?
- Oral language is really complex: it involves lots of sub-skills, including the ability to process:
- phonological information (e.g. speech sounds, syllables, stress, intonation);
- grammatical information (e.g. different sentence types); and
- prior knowledge and language content (including knowledge of vocabulary and relationships between words), to make inferences about the meaning of a message and predictions about what might happen next.
- Language comprehension skills range from recalling facts (main ideas and details), to making inferences (filling in the dots), to evaluating facts (language reasoning). Some researchers have identified five key parts of comprehending oral language:
- listening for the main idea;
- identifying the facts and details;
- making inferences and reasoning;
- understanding the vocabulary; and
- extracting and understanding the most important/relevant messages (Bowers et al., 2006).
So what, exactly, does this course contain?
We include 10, no-prep, entirely scripted sessions - 100 language exercises in all - to pursue oral language goals related to improved language comprehension and expression for school students. Suitable for children in Years 2-5 – as well as for older children with language, reading comprehension and other learning disorders, and people learning English as an additional language – the specific skills targeted in this program include the following:
- Understanding and using complex sentences and instructions with subordinating conjunctions (e.g. “unless” and “while”).
- Understanding high frequency idioms: “To beat around the bush”.
- Following directions containing subordinating conjunctions.
- Formulating complex sentences from fragments using “unless”, “while”, “if”, “so”, “after”.
- Comparing/contrasting objects using semantic features such as function, parts, location, and category.
- Understanding common prefixes and other high frequency morphemes (e.g. “ex-”, "pre-" and “-tract”).
- Expressing and justifying opinions.
- Describing and drawing inferences from pictures, and making predictions.
- Creating and telling true narratives with semantic constraints.
We also include a wealth of links to practical, free, and evidence-based information and resources related to improving a student’s communication skills.
Each volume is composed of 19 slides, formatted in PDF with a link to a Google Slide download (which can also be downloaded as a PowerPoint slide). The slides can be:
- used on a device, one-to-one, with a student who would benefit from extra work on their oral language;
- shared with a small group; or
- used for whole-class instruction.
The oral language activities can be delivered sequentially, or on a standalone basis. They can be delivered face-to-face, and are of course designed to be used when working with children remotely.
Our students love these oral language activities. We hope that your find them just as engaging and useful with your students!
- Lervåg, A., Hulme, C., Melby-Lervåg, M. (2017). Unpicking the Developmental Relationship between Oral Language Skills and Reading Comprehension: It’s Simple, but Complex. Child Development, in press, published online on 12 June 2017, see abstract here.
- Sullivan, J.R., Osman, H., & Schaefer, E.C. (2015). The Effect of Noise on the Relationship Between Auditory Working Memory and Comprehension in School-Age Children, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58, 1043-1051.
Connect with us, read our articles and find more resources at our speech pathology clinic:
Known to many as Speech Bloke, David is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, Lawyer, Author and Father. He is based in Sydney, Australia, where he helps adults and children with communication issues to speak for themselves.
David manages a busy private speech pathology clinic, and a publishing company for speech pathologists in private practice. He is the founder of Banter Speech & Language, and Speechies in Business. He is passionate about ethical practices and consumer rights and regularly guest lectures to speech pathology students and others on legal issues affecting the profession.
David holds a Master of Speech Language Pathology from the University of Sydney, where he was a Dean's Scholar, ranking first in his graduating year. He is admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Hong Kong, and lived for 8 years in Hong Kong. David is a Certified PESL Instructor for accent modification. He is a Hanen- and LSVT LOUD-certified speech-language pathologist with post-graduate training in the PreLit early literacy preparation program by MultiLit, the Spalding Method for literacy, and Voicecraft for voice issues.
Prior to becoming a speech pathologist, David was a senior lawyer at a US Investment Bank and, before then, worked for global law firms in Hong Kong and Sydney. He knows what it takes to communicate professionally and to compete in a globalised workforce.