In For Parents, Tips & Tricks

When your child is first learning to put words together, it can be tempting to use simple words or sentences with them. For example, you may repeat the two and three word phrases they are using. It is important to remember that language is like sound. If your child has poor input to sound then their speech production will also be poor. Similarly, if your child only hears two and three word phrases, then they will only learn to say such short phrases.

Through using language strategies such as expansion and extension, you can encourage your child to learn new language.

 

Expansion:

To expand a phrase, try adding descriptive language to a word your child is using. For example, if your child says “dog” then you might say “yes, it’s a big dog”. Adding the word “big” introduces your child to new language. There are many ways you can expand phrases for your child. Here are some options:

  • Size: big, small, huge, tiny, enormous, little, petite, bite-sized, large, giant
  • Color: red, green, spotty, striped, patchy, multi-colored, rainbow, pink
  • Skin or textures: hard, soft, fluffy, furry, slimy, scaly, rough, hard, bumpy, rocky
  • Smell: smelly, fragrant, sweet, stinky,
  • Emotions: angry, happy, sad, scared, nervous, frightened, worried, upset
  • Numerical: lots, many, few, some, heaps, one, two, three
  • Personality: wild, tame, frightening, friendly, scary, fierce, intimidating, adorable, funny
  • Verbs: running, crying, jumping, dancing, rolling, hopping, skipping, writing, dreaming, sleeping

 

Extension:

When we extend a phrase, we add other elements and ideas to the word your child is using. For example, if your child says “daddy”, then you might say “yes, daddy is working at the office”. By adding an action and/or location, you introduce your child to new language related to the word that they already know (daddy). There are many ways you can extend the phrase for your child, here are some:

  • Actions: running, jumping, working, dancing, sleeping, cooking, getting dressed
  • Locations: they are at… the park, school, work, the market, kindergarten, home
  • Feelings: they are feeling…tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, angry, frustrated, happy, excited
  • Home activities: they are… having a bath, cooking dinner, washing the car, decorating a cake, getting dressed, packing up the toys, reading a book, washing the dishes
  • Role: they are a…policeman, fireman, nurse, doctor, shopkeeper, gardener, teacher, audiologist, therapist, friend
  • Likes and dislikes: they like….eating, red shirts, dancing, taking photos, playing the piano

 

There are many more techniques that you can use to extend your child’s language, such as acoustic highlighting and natural repetition. Do you have any tips of your own? Share them below!

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Trudy Smith
Trudy Smith is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist who currently works as a Rehabilitation Manager for MED-EL. She has worked for twenty years as a Teacher of the Deaf and Auditory Verbal Therapist and provided continuing professional education worldwide. Her philosophy: All things are possible with the right learning opportunities!
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