Tips & Tricks For Parents

Using Acoustic Highlighting When Teaching Listening and Spoken Language

Today, we’re going to look at a simple technique you can use for rehabilitation with your child.

Acoustic highlighting is a great strategy to help when you’re teaching your child new vocabulary. Put simply, you put emphasis on a specific word when you are saying it in a phrase or sentence to make it stand out from the rest of the message.

Acoustic Highlighting Techniques

When is it appropriate to use acoustic highlighting techniques? You’re probably using them already in everyday life.  Here is a good example: When you are speaking to another adult and they repeat what they thought they heard you say, but make a mistake, you highlight, or emphasize the part they have missed.

For example, you say to your spouse, “I need you to drop the kids off at school tomorrow morning.”

They reply, “You need me to drop the kids off at the pool tomorrow morning?”

You say, “I need you to drop them at school tomorrow morning.”

You highlighted the portion of the message they missed, drawing their attention to the word /school/, then repeated the rest of the message.

Simple Ways to Use Acoustic Highlighting

Acoustic highlighting can be a very useful technique to use with a child who has hearing loss:

  • Add emphasis to the word by changing your tone of voice for that word.
  • Add a sing song quality to your voice when you say that word to really draw attention to it: sing what you say!
  • Say the word slightly louder or softer than the rest of the phrase: whisper it…..what shall we do?
  • Pause slightly before saying the word: if your child is telling you about his day and says, “I go to the pool today,” pause before the word /went/: “You went to the pool today.”
  • Say the word more slowly to draw out the sounds they might be missing: Oh, you are going to for a sssswim?

This strategy also works if they are substituting one sound for another. For example, they say /tat/ for /cat/. We might choose to highlight the first sound in the word: k-k-k – cat. Acoustic highlighting works because the brain is looking for patterns in language, or something different or unusual that captures its attention.

The next time you are practicing language skills with your child, listen for an opportunity to use acoustic highlighting to draw their attention to their own speech and language. We hope you have fun with it!



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