Teacher Overcomes Late Start in English by Focusing on the Solution

Teacher Overcomes Late Start in English by Focusing on the Solution

By Barbara Brite Lee

When presented with a challenge – three new 7-year-old profoundly deaf students who were seriously language delayed – Julie Russell, a 26-year veteran teacher of the deaf, looked beyond the problem and focused on a long term solution, a solution that included using Cued Speech.

In the summer of 2000, Julie was assigned to create a self-contained elementary class for the children. Although all three students had apparently normal intelligence, two students had cochlear implants that had been in use for less than six months; two were from homes where the spoken language was Spanish, two had previously been taught using ASL and one did not vocalize at all. Two of the students had attended the school for the deaf; one had attended a preschool.

Julie was a respected teacher, known for her expertise in and passion for language instruction. Over the years Julie had honed her skills, became a proficient signer, learned Cued Speech, learned Auditory-Verbal strategies, developed original teaching materials for herself and others, and had watched her students excel through high school into college. Julie had also learned Cued Speech from her colleague, speech language pathologist Karen Parrish, when they both worked with a student who used CS. The student had succeeded taking advanced placement classes in high school and is now attending the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill.

Anticipating her new students, the two teachers conferred and agreed that:

  1. the immediate priority was language development based on spoken language.
  2. signing could not efficiently facilitate that goal; and
  3. the two students with new cochlear implants were so delayed that it was unreasonable to spend a year devoted entirely to Auditory Verbal strategies for learning to listen.

Karen and Julie agreed that using Cued Speech was the surest road to literacy so they began cueing to the students and teaching them to cue expressively. They agreed that Julie would work on language and the designated speech-language pathologist would focus on speech and learning to listen.

Julie administered language assessments to establish baseline data on each student (see table below). In every aspect of language, each child was 4 to 5 years delayed. Julie based on her experience teaching with Cued Speech, set a goal: the children would learn language to age appropriate levels.

Language Assessment

  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary: All scored below the lowest level of the norms (2.6)
  • Test of Auditory Comprehension of Language (TACL): All scored at the three year old level.
  • Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT): Two scored below the lowest level of the norms (2.0). One scored an age equivalency of 2 years, 4 months.
  • Sentence Elication Test (SET): Most of the students’ signed responses were simple lables, with the highest level being two-sign utterances


The first year was not easy; the transition from ASL to Cued Speech presented formidable challenges. For Cued Speech to really accelerate language learning, the parents also needed to cue. The children’s parents were given information about Cued Speech and offered the opportunity to learn to cue. The English speaking mother and one of the Hispanic parents learned to cue. The child from the third family only received cues receptively at school.

Julie worked with the students on language development in a self-contained classroom from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., cueing all lessons and using sign when communication failed. She focused on teaching them language as well as receptive and expressive use of Cued Speech.

“Everything revolved around developing language using meaningful experiences,” said Julie. Vocabulary developed so that the students could produce basic sentence patterns, followed by the use of basic conjunctions like “and,” “but,” and “because,” and then by more complex sentences.

Kindergarten teachers will tell you that the first thing kindergartners need to learn for literacy is the sounds of the letters. Knowing this, Julie selected Explode the Code, a phonics program, and began teaching the children to cue-and-say the sounds of the phonemes. The cues gave the children an exact representation of the phonemes they were learning. The second step in a typical phonics program is the blending of three-phoneme words, digraphs, and diphthongs, again easily expressed with Cued Speech. Using this strategy, the students not only learned to cue; they learned to associate the cues with the sounds of printed letters and to decode the cues when Julie cued to them.

Finding appropriate reading material was a challenge. After lengthy discussions with a Reading Recovery teacher, Julie elected to use the Rigby and Wright Reading Series because they provided a wealth of language appropriate reading materials in small, colorful, attractive books. Mainstreaming without a sufficient language foundation is usually a nonproductive experience for deaf students. However, after spending the first part of each day with Julie, the three students were mainstreamed into a first grade math class, their first exposure to regular education – with a Cued Speech language facilitator/transliterator. The goals were to give them exposure to a regular classroom environment, to the math concepts, and to develop sufficient language for taking the state mandated End of Grade math test when they got to third grade.

Other significant challenges that first year were that there were personnel who were philosophically opposed to the program; there was no experienced professional to provide guidance; and there was uncertainty about the role of the language facilitators/transliterators. The language facilitator/transliterator role was defined as to transliterate and also to do additional things that he or she deemed appropriate to facilitate the student’s language learning (i.e. rephrase, remind the student of something he had learned from Ms. Russell, repeat, etc).

“I had a vision but the path taken was not always straight and smooth. We had to take detours, backtrack and sidetrack, but we never forgot our goal and always moved toward it,” Julie recalled.


There were major changes this year. The program moved to a different elementary school and the role of the language facilitators was dramatically expanded from transliteration to one of total involvement in developing language in their assigned student, becoming full-fledged members of the educational team.

“Through daily observation of my teaching language lessons, the facilitators learned to input, practice and elicit specific language structures,” said Julie. In order to track language usage in a variety of situations, the facilitators were trained to document spontaneous language, writing it precisely in notebooks that they carried everywhere. Julie used the notebooks to check progress toward the IEP goals, measured by the length and complexity of their utterances For example, “The boy can’t under the ball” became “The boy can’t get the ball because the ball is under the car.” Such progress was exhilarating to everyone involved.

Julie continued to work with the phonics and reading programs. Due to the students’ language delay, mainstreaming continued only for second grade math. “I did not use mainstreaming as a dumping ground. I wanted it to be a meaningful learning experience,” Julie stated.

Julie also implemented a positive reinforcement system to encourage the students to use the language they had learned throughout the day. Initially, the children were content to use 2-3 word utterances. Then Julie gave the students a card with 20 circles that they wore around their necks. Every time a good sentence was used, the students were praised and a circle was punched. They were “paid” with a dollar of play money when each card was completed. At the end of the week, they could buy goodies at a store established in the classroom.

“The kids were almost clamoring to give good sentences whenever opportunities arose, and we were frantically trying to replenish the items in the store,” Julie said. “The students began talking more — and wanted to talk even more.”


Language continued to be the primary focus in the third year. There was an increased emphasis on math in preparation for the End of Grade third grade math test.

“To insure success, I implemented a consistent plan for pre-teaching and reviewing math vocabulary and skills,” said Julie. “The facilitators were responsible for monitoring this facet of the program; they alerted me to language issues that arose and I worked on those accordingly.”

The students had developed enough language that they were ready to use the Scott Foresman reading series adopted by the county for regular education students. Assessments at the beginning of the year indicated that two students were at the primer level and one was at the pre-primer level. The difficulties were not in vocabulary or word recognition, but in retelling and recalling details. Julie had one-on-one reading sessions with each student for an hour a day, and shifted the emphasis to comprehension through retelling and recalling details.

On the End-of-Grade testing in math, both third graders scored a 4 — the highest score obtainable. The test was language intensive, including many word problems. The excellent scores and the fact that the students were able to read the problems for themselves was cause for celebration by everyone who helped make it happen. Jubilation reigned both at home and school ! ! ! !

At the end of the year, the test scores showed one student at the third grade instructional/ independent level, one at the 2nd grade independent level and the 3rd grade instructional level, and one at the 2nd grade instructional level.


Success! This year one student is mainstreamed for reading; all three are mainstreamed for math and writing.

“We don’t mainstream without support. We give them whatever they need in pre-teaching and review to enable them to function successfully in the mainstream. The goal is for them to be able to be assessed with modifications addressing only their hearing loss and communication, not their ability to read and understand,” Julie stressed.


When I asked Julie what she had learned as a teacher, these were some of the things she noted.

  1. The importance of a long range vision – “Without this, it would be like taking a journey without a destination.” Stephen Covey (author of the best selling Seven Habits of Highly Effective People would certainly agree. One of his habits is, “Begin with the end in mind.”
  2. The necessity to raise expectations – “It was not enough to make just a year’s progress in a year’s time. If that was all we did, the students would never have language skills on their chronological age level. They had to make more than a year’s progress in a year’s time in order to close the gap.”
  3. Everyone involved with the child needs to be, in some way, accountable for his progress. – “IEP goals need to be taken seriously. Teachers, parents, speech therapists, language facilitators/ transliterators each have a very important role to play individually and collectively. We all need to be aware of the student’s goals and support each other in achieving them. Parents were asked to do specific things and report back to me. Language facilitators/ transliterators had specific assignments each week and I checked the students’ progress on Friday. The speech therapist kept the rest of us informed about speech goals and strategies for helping the students reach them.”
  4. Educators and parents may have to leave their comfort zone and try something new to maximize achievement – “If you always do what you’ve done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Julie reminded me that she had first heard that oft-quoted statement from me during a workshop. I heard it from a former student teacher, who heard it at a school for the deaf in Australia. It’s been around for a long time and is still true.

If Julie could change anything about the strategies she used, “I would have implemented the expanded use of the facilitators from the very start. I have always believed that knowledge of the student’s language is a crucial element for effective communication / facilitation in the mainstream. When facilitators become completely involved in developing the child’s language, facilitation is no longer a guessing game. They are no longer wondering if information needs to be rephrased. They are able to assist the student in applying the language he has learned in the resource room to the mainstream setting so that there is no question that the work the student turns in is his own words, not anyone else’s.”

“Training the facilitators to be language developers requires a lot of hard work, but knowing the benefit it reaps, I’d have it no other way. I needed the facilitators to utilize the time effectively when the students were not with me and to reinforce the language structures I was teaching.” Julie emphasized repeatedly that the students would not have made the progress they did without facilitators Beverly Mahoney (mother of a Cued Speech kid) and Linda Nelson.

Julie Russell and the entire staff at her school have walked the walk toward the solution. Julie did not shy away from the challenge because of fear or conformity or laziness. Her fellow teachers respect and admire what she has accomplished. There were many factors that contributed to the success of these students, but the bottom line is that Julie focused on the solution.

Cued Speech & Down Syndrome

Cued Speech & Down Syndrome

By Pamela H. Beck

Speech pathologists were the first persons — beginning in the early 1980’s — to begin using Cued Speech with children with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Parents and educators followed their lead.

This author has experience with three children with Down Syndrome, two boys six years old and a girl 4 years old. Each child was unique.

The parents were interested in developing their children’s speech. I taught the boys as a group (along with several normally-developing siblings) for an hour each week for about a year.

We used Ling’s sequence of introducing sounds to deaf children. We focused on listening, cueing, and correct articulation for the individual sounds. The target sounds were practiced in words and phrases describing objects they held and activities we were doing. The children were required to mimic the cueing as well as the speech and language, because the motoric formation of the cues while speaking provides important patterning information and practice. (This is important also for effective use with children with apraxia.)

One boy was loquacious, but poor articulation and mis-ordering of phonemes made him difficult to understand. His mother used Cued Speech to correct his articulation and pattern the elements in his speech. She found that cueing helped him focus on the speaker’s face and articulators, and helped him pay attention auditorily. These factors enabled him to be more precise.

The second boy was very quiet. A number of speech therapists had tried numerous techniques unsuccessfully to have him use his voice. My breakthrough with him came by having him alternate whispering and yelling, so he knew it was okay not to use voice at times and he could control it.

His mother used cueing and talking as a fun thing to do in the bathtub, swimming, swinging, and with music. She found that the motor aspects of his cueing transferred the tension from his oral musculature to his hand, releasing and making it easy and fun for him to talk.

The third child I observed interacting with her mother who cued and had her imitate sounds, syllables and words. This child was younger and at a lower developmental level. She used a few signs. Note that signs look so different from cues that I have never known a child confused by using both.

Parents must evaluate their child’s attributes and capabilities and consider if Cued Speech will serve them and their child well. Certainly, the phonemic foundation of Cued Speech is helpful to any child. Nothing is lost by trying it conscientiously, and you may gain considerable benefits.

Cued Speech and Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Cued Speech and Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorders

By Pamela H. Beck

Cued Speech has been and is being used with children who have autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), as one part of individualized packages of special services.

Does Cued Speech make sense for communication disorders due to Pervasive Developmental Disorders? The answer is yes.

For what purpose does one use Cued Speech? Families and educators use Cued Speech to overcome the inability or difficulty in processing auditory information that is a common component of the syndromes which fall under PDD. Poor comprehension, deficient articulation, phonologic errors and, somewhat paradoxically, hypersensitivity to auditory stimuli are present in these syndromes.

Why does Cued Speech work for individuals with PDD?

  1. Individuals with PDD tend to process visually better than audit orally; Cued Speech presents sound (phonemes) visually.
  2. Cued Speech helps individuals focus and begin to relate to people’s faces; Cued Speech combines the information available on the moving lips with eight handshapes used in four locations near the mouth.
  3. Cued Speech is a multi-sensory integrated approach: voice and visual cues are synchronized and complementary. The person receiving Cued Speech sees and hears the message as a unit; when that individual uses Cued Speech him/herself, the hand cues provide a motoric reminder of the sounds and sound patterns to be expressed.

Written accounts of the use of CS with children with PDD are scarce though oral accounts are more abundant. If you are a family or professional using Cued Speech for this important purpose, we encourage you to write a log of tbe procedures you use in introducing Cued Speech, using Cued Speech, and a description of the results that you achieve and forward it to the National Cued Speech Association.

The teachers of a child who is hypersensitive to sound use Cued Speech without voice. The rationale and benefits are that Cued Speech presents sound (phonemes) visually; the student is getting the same phonemic message as if he were listening to it.

Ann Bleuer, one of the founders of Alternatives in Education for the Hearing-Impaired (AEHI)/ A.G. Bell Montessori School in Illinois, has been successful with a variety of unique children. Ann has used Cued Speech within an eclectic blend of strategies compiled to meet the needs of the individual child.

The following items are summaries of stories Ann shared in a telephone interview. With each of these children (all of whom have sustained brain damage, but not all of whom are labeled PDD), Ann used Cued Speech to advantage:

One child could not communicate after surviving encephalitis. The staff at AEHI began using survival signs along with Cued Speech with him at age 3. By the time he was 7 years old, he was communicating by talking, he chose not to use signs, and he read on grade level.

Another boy was “allergic” to the activity in his own brain. He was so incapacitated by his condition that he could not eat or drink. Later, he was able to be mainstreamed in his neighborhood school with a Cued Speech transliterator.

Due to an auto accident, one student suffered severe bead trauma. Her brain does not process sound. The use of sign language frustrated her, but Cued Speech made sense to her. She returned to high school; Cued Speech helps her maintain her spoken language and speech clarity.

Cued Speech seems appropriately applicable as a strategy in the treatment and education of children with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with this syndrome, it is also described as acquired aphasia. After developing normally and learning the language, the child begins to be affected by hyper electrical activity in the brain, which renders the temporal lobe unable to process sound and thus also causes the child to stop speaking.

Other approaches:
Frequent recommendations for treating and remediating auditory processing disabilities for children with PDD are to use(l) drugs, (2) intensive training matching sound to written phonemes, and (3) computer manipulation of phoneme duration. Approaches (2) and (3) are related to the use of CS.

Approach (2) intensive training matching sound to written phonemes: The benefits of this approach can be accelerated by taking advantage of the following attributes of Cued Speech:

  • consistent visual delineation of the sound (based on phonemes rather than the vagaries of spelling);
  • focus on the face and the production of speech sounds;
  • sensory-integrated reception and expression of the target sounds;
  • unified syllabic patterning of sound groups

Approach (3) computer manipulation of phoneme duration:
Aspects of manipulation of phoneme duration are common in the use of Cued Speech. Cued Speech is instantly flexible to meet the moment’s need of the individual, and cuers frequently lengthen and shorten phonemes to enhance the understanding of the receiver.

The National Cued Speech Association looks forward to assisting you in implementing Cued Speech and your personal accounts of success.

Cued Speech for Special Children

Cued Speech for Special Children

By Pamela Beck

Cued Speech is used with children with and without hearing loss for a variety of purposes, such as accelerating the learning phonics or speech or language instruction. The children may be typical children or have autism, apraxia, cerebral palsy, deaf-blindness, developmental disabilities or other learning needs. Our most special children are those who have one or more additional disabilities with their hearing loss…

Remaining content coming soon.

Speech-Language Pathologist Uses Cued Speech for Hearing Children

Speech-Language Pathologist Uses Cued Speech for Hearing Children

By Anne Marie Dziekonski

Carla Davidson is a speech-language pathologist at Longridge Elementary School in Greece, NY (near Rochester). She uses Cued Speech on a daily basis while providing therapy to with children who are not deaf or hard-of-hearing. Carla learned to cue eight years ago and has not stopped since! She became fluent in Cued Speech while working with deaf students in private practice.

Carla uses Cued Speech in a variety of therapy sessions. She has a practical application of cueing for almost every student she works with. Carla frequently uses Cued Speech when working with children with articulation problems. She believes Cued Speech highlights children’s speech distortions and substitutions and helps them discriminate between sounds. Additionally, cueing allows Carla to show her students how sounds are blended and sequenced together to make words.

Carla finds that children can follow directions better when they are cued. For children who stutter, cueing provides information about normal rate and stress patterns, gives a visual representation of types of dysfluencies, and helps develop appropriate eye contact.

Carla has given presentations to her colleagues about Cued Speech and its applications. She is pleased with the results Cued Speech has had in her therapy and will continue to use Cued Speech in the future.

Anne Marie wrote this article as a graduate student in the Nazareth College Speech-Language Pathology specialty training program in deafness. Reprinted from On Cue 2003, issue 2.

Cued Speech: Getting Started

Cued Speech: Getting Started

By Sarina Roffé

Over the years I’ve taught many people Cued Speech and I’ve always found that when people leave class, or cue camp or wherever they have learned cueing, that they need several things to get started using CS successfully. I’ve seen people fail miserably, mostly because they don’t use it; and I’ve seen families be tremendously successful.

So what are the keys? Why are some people more successful at becoming fluent cuers than others become? Why does Cueing come more easily for some than for others? And what does it mean to use CS successfully? And how does fluent cueing transfer into the development of good English language skills for deaf children? How do parents make that happen? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

Becoming a Fluent Cuer

Well the key to becoming a fluent cuer is to learn cueing so that it becomes automatic, like knowing that two plus two is four.

Why does it come easier for some than for others? I’m not sure that it does. I’ve heard people argue that it’s easier for people who know phonics, such as speech teachers. I’ve people say that they didn’t learn to read with phonics, so it’s harder for them. Well, I am here to tell you that I didn’t either. When I learned to read in New York City schools, I learned with the Dick and Jane series; no phonics, and people think I’m a fairly good cuer.

I think the keys that open the door to successful cueing have to do with motivation – how badly you want to learn it – and practice, practice, practice. If you don’t memorize the system and know your vowels as easily as you know your name, then it won’t be easy and you will always struggle.

I like to think of learning to cue as an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come, dividends that benefit both my child and me. Before I learned to cue, I saw parents of older children spend their time after school, re-teaching their deaf children their schoolwork. These were committed parents, but I couldn’t see doing that for the rest of my life.

When I was learning to cue, I knew that my learning to cue would make the difference in whether or not every day of my child’s future would be a challenge. So I committed myself to cueing so well that it became as automatic as my knowing my name. I believed as clearly then as I do now, that cueing would change our lives.

Common Sense Tips for Getting Started

Goal: To gain fluency with cueing.

  • Rule #1:  Be committed to cueing. If you are not committed, if you don’t believe in cueing, then you will lose the battle.
  • Rule #2:  Start slow: 10 – 15 minutes 2-3 times a day in the first week or two, then 30 minutes, and longer and longer until you are cueing all the time.
  • Rule #3:  Memorize the vowels – drill them until you know them and can hear them.
  • Rule #4:  Use idle time for practice – the waiting room of a doctor’s office, sitting on the bus or subway, waiting in your car at a red light.
  • Rule #5:  Practice things you know first – nursery rhymes, songs, and television commercials
  • Rule #6:  Start with known vocabulary – yes, no, body parts, the alphabet, numbers, colors, names of objects
  • Rule #7:  Cue every day – don’t wait until you are fluent. You won’t be fluent if you don’t practice everyday.
  • Rule #8:  Be consistent: Don’t skip a day, because if you do, you’ll fall down.
  • Rule #9:  Cue slowly. Don’t worry about being slow. Your child will be slow at first also.
  • Rule #10:  Repeat what your child says by cueing it back to him or her.

Sarina’s Tip: Remember children learn through repetition.

The Obvious

  1. Keep objects away from your mouth when cueing.
  2. Keep your hands away from your cheek when talking.
  3. Keep facial hair trimmed and neat.
  4. Wait for eye contact before you talk and cue.
  5. Never cue without using your mouth.
  6. Remember to synchronize your cues with your mouth movements.

Using Cued Speech with Your Child

Goal: To enrich vocabulary as a baseline for communication and literacy.

  1. Wait for eye contact before you cue; even if it’s brief.
  2. Be consistent: Cue the same things over and over again.
  3. Start with known vocabulary – names of members of your family and words and phrases your child maybe familiar with – and then build on the same vocabulary.
  4. Use complete sentences -It’s time for your bath.
    1. It’s time to get dressed.
    2. It’s time to eat.
    3. It’s time for breakfast.
    4. It’s time for dinner.
    5. It’s time for a snack.
    6. Do you want cereal?
    7. Do you want Rice Krispies?
    8. Do you want Corn Flakes?
    9. Do you want Cap’n Crunch cereal?
  5. Cue sounds in the environment, especially with cochlear implant children because it validates what they hear.
  6. As language builds, expect expressive speech, especially with questions. For example:
    • Q: What do you want for breakfast?
    • A: I don’t know.
    • Q: Do you want cereal?
    • A: Yes
    • Q: What kind of cereal do you want?
    • A: I want Rice Krispies
  7. Don’t accept pointing or gestures when a child is demanding something. Give him or her the words to express himself. If the child points to a cookie, and you know he wants the cookie, then hold the cookie and say “Do you want a cookie?” If the child indicates in the affirmative, then say, “You need to ask for it. Say ‘please may I have a cookie?’” Use and expect language and you will get language. Cue all the time and be consistent in your expectations.
  8. Remember: Language is what you say. Speech is how you say it. With cues you are building language. You can use cues to clarify and correct speech, but not to teach speech.
  9. Avoid baby language. A pacifier is a pacifier, not a ba-ba or a bo-bo or a paci.
  10. Use every opportunity to talk to your child and build on that vocabulary.
  11. Think of your home as a laboratory of learning and use it.
  12. Make learning language a game. If should be fun.

Sarina’s Tip: Don’t Dumb Down Your Language.
Building Basic Language:

We know that hearing children learn language effortlessly through listening, eavesdropping, exposure and interaction. Children are naturally curious and when we build language we need to build on that curiosity. As parents of deaf and hard of hearing children, we can build vocabulary by providing a model for language structure, through daily routine and the vocabulary used in those routines.

  1. Cue babble or whatever your child says – cueing it back reinforces what they are saying and tells them that you understood them.
  2. Remember to cue colors – not just red, blue and yellow, but magenta, purple, lavender and turquoise.
  3. Cue body parts
  4. Animals – farm and zoo animals
  5. Count objects and use numbers
  6. Use the names of the shapes of objects – triangles, squares, polygons, ovals
  7. Sing and cue the alphabet.
  8. Use prepositions and opposites – on, off, under, over, near, far, next to, in, out, etc.
  9. Use adjectives – the dog’s tail is bushy, thin, thick, long, short. A pattern is plaid, or striped or solid colored. He is wearing a flowery shirt.
  10. Talk about how things smell and their texture – soft, hard, sandy, rough, smooth.
  11. Use brand names – Nike sneakers, Calvin Klein.
  12. Use names of toys – Buzz Light year; C3PO
  13. Sing nursery rhymes with your child.
  14. Talk about how things are the same or different
  15. Talk about emotions and how things feel. If your child is angry or sad or happy, give him or her the words to say it.
  16. Capitalize on your child’s interests.

Sarina’s tip: Listen to hearing children talk among themselves. Listen for phrases you wouldn’t normally say and work them into the vocabulary you use with your child.

Ideas for activities with your preschool child

  1. Cooking simple things.
    • Pudding is a great thing to make because it’s easy and there’s lots of language.
    • Pouring, mixing, shaking, pouring. Talk about how thin the milk is, how powdery the pudding mix is and the thickness of the pudding after it’s made.
  2. Make a shopping list with your child.
    • Do we need apples? We need three apples.
    • Do we need cereal? What kind of cereal do we need?
    • We need four oranges. After you make the list. Take your child to the supermarket with the specific person of purchasing what’s on the list and only what’s on the list. Avoid the temptation of buying other items the first time you do this exercise.
  3. Language Experience books
    • This idea went out in the 90s but I think experience books are great for preschool kids. The concept is simple. You take an activity you have done with the child, such as going to McDonald’s, and break it down into small steps in sequential order. For example:
    • Mommy, Daddy and Johnny got in the car.
    • We drove to McDonald’s.
    • Johnny ordered a hamburger and French fries and a soda.
    • Johnny ate lunch.
    • The three of us went home.
    • Here we have a sequence of five actions. To make the activity book, you can draw one item on a page and put the description, only a sentence, on the page. A child is always more interested in a book that involves himself.
  4. Read often and cue
    • Always cue when you read to your child.
    • Choose books of your child’s language level or slightly higher.
    • If you can’t cue the whole thing, then cue parts of each page, but remember to cue, cue, cue.
  5. Take walk in the neighborhood or in a park
    • Take walks in the neighborhood with your child and point out things.
    • Name the plants, trees and flowers.
    • Talk about different cars people have.
    • See how many colors you can find.
    • Talk about or name unusual objects you might take for granted – the fire hydrant, the sewer cover, a parking meter. Talk about what they are used for.
  6. Talk about the child’s interests.
    • If your child likes cars, then talk about cars – their colors, types, and the parts of a car.
    • If your child likes dolls, talk about the parts of the doll, the clothing she wears.
    • If your child likes to build, talk about the names of tools and what they are used for.
  7. Take field trips
    • Go to the zoo and talk about the zoo animals. What’s the difference between an Asian elephant and an African elephant? A giraffe has a long neck. A kangaroo hops and holds a baby in its pouch.
    • Go to a farm and talk about farm animals. Talk about their eating habits and what the animals produce, like milk. Chickens have feathers and make eggs; cows have fur.
    • Go to an aquarium and talk about the fish, dolphins and other sea life.
    • Go to the beach or lake. Build castles in the sand and how wet sand is easier to work with when building. Talk about how the waves come and go and wash away the castles at night.
  8. Reinforce body parts at bath time
    • Wash your ears.
    • Wash your arms.
    • Wash your legs.
    • Wash your hands.
  9. Ask questions and expect answers
    • What’s you name?
    • How old are you?
    • Where do you live?
    • Where is your jacket?
  10. Familiarize your child with animal sounds.
    • The cow goes moo.
    • The pig goes oink.
    • The sheep goes baaa.
    • A horse goes neigh.
    • A duck says quack quack.

Building Advanced Language

  • Use idiomatic expressions
  • Use expressions from a non-English language.
  • Teach your child to answer riddles.
  • Play charades.