a boy studying online using laptop

The following strategies are offered for enhancing language skills and managing language challenges. This listing is by no means exhaustive, but rather is meant as a place to begin.

These are the first 10 strategies, look out for the others later.

Alice Thomas and Glenda Thorne

1. Take the mystery away.

The first and perhaps most important strategy is to teach students about the components of language, common language challenges and language strategies, and to help students understand their own language strengths and challenges. This process is sometimes called demystification – taking the mystery away.

2. Simplify directions.

Students with receptive language challenges may need directions broken down into their simplest form. They may also benefit from a comic book-type illustration of steps to take for the completion of a task.

3. Give written copies of directions and examples.

Students with receptive language challenges may need directions given to them at a relatively slow pace. They may need directions repeated to them. They most often benefit from having a written copy of directions that are given orally. Examples of what needs to be done are also useful.

4. Provide frequent breaks.

Some students, mainly younger ones may use up a lot of energy listening, and, therefore, tire easily. Consequently, short, highly structured work times with frequent breaks or quiet periods may be helpful.

5. Give additional time.

Students with receptive and expressive language challenges are likely to have a slower processing speed and should be allowed additional time for written work and tests.

6. Sit Close.

A student may want to sit close to the teacher so he can watch the facial expression of the teacher when s/he is talking. This may also help to diminish interference from other auditory distractions.

This is an advantage of online teaching as the student is sitting in front of the camera and so is the teacher.

7. Allow voluntary participation.

Students with language processing challenges should not be put on the spot by being required to answer questions during class discussions, especially without being forewarned. Rather, their participation should be on a voluntary basis.

8. Teach summarizing and paraphrasing.

Reading comprehension is often enhanced by summarizing and paraphrasing. This helps students to identify the main idea and supporting details. It may be helpful to provide key words such as who, what, when, where and why to orient attention to the appropriate details.

9. Teach a staging procedure.

Most students find a staging procedure beneficial when writing paragraphs, essays, poems, reports and research papers. First they should generate ideas, and then they should organize them. Next, they should attend to spelling and grammatical rules. They may also list their most frequently occurring errors in a notebook and refer to this list when self correcting.

10. Encourage renewed investment of energy in older students.

Older students who have experienced reading failure from an early age must become convinced that a renewed investment of energy will be worthwhile. According to Louisa Moats, an expert in the field of reading, older students who are very poor readers must have their phonological skills strengthened because the inability to identify speech sounds erodes spelling, word recognition, and vocabulary development. Phonological awareness, spelling, decoding, grammar, and other language skills can be taught as a linguistics course in which instructors use more adult terminology such as phoneme deletion and morphemic structure. Phonemic drills may include games such as reverse-a-word (Say teach; then say it with the sounds backwards – cheat.)

In online learning some of these strategies might not be able to be applied.

Look out for the other strategies in my next blog.

a boy studying online using laptop
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