University of Edinburgh

Assessment of Comprehension and Expression (ACE)

Presented on Thursday, 26 April 2012

Resources for developing spoken language skills with deaf children, especially in the primary years

To avoid teaching to the (sub)-test, look at the area of language development first, explore it theoretically and by reading, then devise IEP statements and approaches/activities for a particular pupil you work with. Don't look at the test again or devise activities which are similar to it. The test cannot be used for a year anyway, so put it away and focus on the broader issues.

I am suggesting using resources from excellent English teachers, English as an Additional/Foreign Language teachers and Speech and Language Therapists. These suggestions also have a strong focus on creativity and children’s literature.

1. General resources

    Using a childrens literature approach

  • Picture books website
    Has very nice online picture books suitable for children of all ages. The illustrations are detailed and will encourage lots of talk. The language structures introduced are also very suitable for deaf or EAL learners. Not too simple!
  • Sharing picture books with children (ages 7-11)
    Useful ideas about how to introduce stories with children in the primary years.
  • Book Trust: picture book resources
    Uses English terminology eg Key Stage 2 but nevertheless a very useful resource about ways of using picture books to stimulate talk in the primary years. The videos illustrate good practice with hearing children which we can also use with deaf children.
  • Carousel is an excellent magazine for teachers which reviews new children's books.
    Regularly reviews picture books and visual books which older children can enjoy.
  • Picture books in ELT
    Many of the books are available second hand quite cheaply on Amazon, or you could order them for school libraries.
  • 1.2 Using an EAL approach

  • Excellence and enjoyment: learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years
    Unit 4: Speaking, listening, learning
    Department for Education and Skills (2006)
    Includes some lesson plans for different ages at primary school.
  • Busy Teacher: new fun ways to teach grammar to ESL students
    This site has some active learning approaches which focus on particular grammatical forms which deaf students may find difficult: the perfect and the use of the article, for example.
  • 1.3 Using a speech and language therapy approach

  • Primary Milestone Poster:¬†What’s typical talk at primary? from ICAN (Talking Point) outlines what's typical talk in Primary to keep in mind what you are aiming for. Useful for the classroom or staffoom wall. Could help with IEP writing too. Another Poster is available for Secondary Milestones.
  • Black Sheep Press
    Useful though quite expensive resources designed for SALTs to use. Includes materials to stimulate a wide range of speaking and listening tasks and build comprehension of non-literal language too.
  • Delamain and Spring (2003) Speaking Listening and Understanding
    This describes a book with a range of SLT devised ideas for building comprehension and production.
  • 1.4 Using a games approach

  • Smart Kids resources on Speaking and Listening
    A company which produces a wide range of good quality games and activities plus teacher resources.
  • LDA sell a pack and a game called Time to Talk aimed at Early Years children to encourage social talk.
  • Jeopardy Quiz Show ESL games
    This free online game requires talk in groups and practices a wide range of tenses.
  • 1.5 Using a drama and play approach

  • The Incredible Benefits of Dramatic Play
    Blog post with examples of dramatic play and outlines benefits. (Website: Stay at home educator)
  • Language play and language development
    A great article which outlines how to encourage four types of language play with children.
  • 2. Sentence comprehension

  • Listening: theory and practice in modern foreign language competence
    A useful article which outlines strategies to improve listening comprehension: pre-listening, monitoring and evaluating. Very applicable to deaf education.
  • Information gap activities are good for building comprehension
    and also for encouraging pupils to judge more accurately if their message has been understood. This EAL resource is from a project in Nottingham and it describes the principles of designing good collaborative learning materials.
  • 3. Inference comprehension

  • Thinking with languages, images and strategies. Explains the KWL strategy which many teachers use.
  • Many of the links to children's literature already mentioned provide a creative context for discussing inference. Choose a story which is mainly or wholly visual to focus discussion on what has happened, why, what might happen and the general knowledge which is needed so that a story makes sense. This is a speaking and listening activity which does not have to rely on reading.

    4. Naming and developing semantic understanding

  • Doing It Differently: Tips for Teaching Vocabulary (Edutopia)
  • V is for Vocabulary: Carol Read's EAL teaching blog
    A very useful summary to help with planning vocabulary teaching.
  • Google video is an essential resource for building vocabulary and understanding processes.
  • Having fun with antonyms: ESL site
  • Paul Nation is a New Zealand Linguist who has written some very accessible academic books for ESL practitioners, also useful for us. See, for example: Learning Vocabulary in another Language, Cambridge University Press, 2001. Although we are dealing mainly with monolingual children, his focus on the first two thousand words, and encouraging learners to learn new vocabulary by extensive reading using the correct level of text is very helpful to teachers of deaf children too. The lextutor website allows you to see the frequency bands of any text you use, provided you have it in electronic form:

  • The lextutor website
  • Here is an online quiz program about the first most frequent 1,000 words.
    This game is good because it has simple definitions.
  • 5. Syntax - building sentences

  • Colourful semantics is a technique for building sentences – spoken or written
    These are free resources, often used by SLTs. Despite the name it is focused on syntax.
  • Passive voice game
  • 6. Non-literal comprehension

  • A useful EFL site for teaching comprehension of phrasal verbs, idiom and non-literal language.
  • Figurative Language Therapy
    Black Sheep also have some materials to address these issues.
  • 7. Narrative

  • A useful website with ideas for developing spoken language skills of storytelling
  • A list from Amazon UK of wordless picture books. Some are quite cheap second hand:
    Although Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman is not on it.