EDU Q&AS: Speech, Language and Communication
Approximate reading time: 3 minutes.
We recently published an article in SENCo Magazine, Issue 2, in case you missed it, you can read our Q&As below:
How can primary teachers ensure that pupils who find it difficult to speak or understand verbal instructions don’t get left out in class? Derry Patterson, SaLT offers some advice…
As a primary teacher, once I know I’ll be teaching pupils with speech, language and communication needs in the coming year, what can I do to prepare?
The most valuable support that you can give children with SLCN is to ensure the language you use for teaching is accessible to everyone in the classroom. Slowing down your pace of delivery and allowing extra thinking time are two strategies that will not only help children with SLCN, but also many others in your class.
Our Language Link package details a range of further strategies you can use, grouped into four broad headings – ‘Break it down’, ‘Explain as you go’, ‘Check as you go’ and ‘Keep it visual’.
Which common difficulties and challenges encountered by pupils with SLCN should I be most sensitive to?
If a child has a speech problem or difficulty with their spoken language, you will be able to identify it as soon you meet them. Conversely, the issue that is hardest to detect will be difficulty in understanding language. Children with verbal comprehension difficulties might outwardly appear to understand you – they will often soon learn the daily classroom routine by watching and copying their peers, and readily respond to any non-verbal cues when available. These children will tend to be very good at ‘making themselves invisible’ and can easily slip under the radar.
It is therefore important to be sensitive to any signs that a child might be struggling to understand the language of the classroom. Language Link features a whole class language screening tool for children in Reception, enabling teachers to quickly identify whether any children have difficulty understanding, and a provides comprehensive range of ways to support said children during class, group and individual work activities.
How can I accurately determine and assess my pupils’ understanding of spoken language?
It can be hard to know for sure whether a child understands a command, since we often use visual supports such as pointing or other visual cues – putting on one’s coat while saying ‘It’s time to go outside’, for example.
Because these cues will provide heavy hints for children who don’t understand the words used, it’s vital that a formal assessment be performed to accurately measure a child’s real understanding of spoken language. The Language Link standardised assessment is designed for precisely this purpose, being easy to administer and taking only 20 minutes to complete. It will then provide intervention recommendations for children identified as having mild or moderate difficulties, and highlight whether in-school assistance or speech and language therapy may be needed for children with more severe difficulties.
Where can parents and teachers turn to in cases where pupils have both SLCN and some other form of SEN?
We work closely with local speech and language therapy teams and SEND advisory teams, and there are a number of charities – including the Communication Trust and Afasic – that provide SLCN advice and support for parents and professionals. For SENCos, the DfE SENCo Forum is an invaluable tool for obtaining advice and developing your professional network beyond your local offering – details of how to join can be found at tinyurl.com/DfESENCo-Forum.
You can also can find advice articles for teachers and parents written by speech and language specialists in our in-house magazine, The Link, which can be read via the Speech Link website.
What can schools and teachers do to effectively engage with parents of pupils with SLCN?
We fully recognise the importance of engaging with parents, which is why our packages provide SENCos with parent friendly advice sheets and worksheets that can be used to support the work being done at school in a fun way at home.
What is widely recognised as good practice when it comes to supporting pupils with SLCN?
In short, ‘ASSESS’, ‘PLAN’, ‘DO’ and ‘REVIEW’. A Language Link assessment can help generate evidence that children’s understanding of language has been fully investigated at school entry. The resulting reports will provide a clear picture of the language needs of all children in the class, while our online reporting system will ensure that intervention outcomes are objectively recorded and that progress is being monitored and evaluated.
The online version of SENCo Magazine can be found here: http://www.teachwire.net/uploads/special-issues/SENCo2.pdf