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Assessing and Teaching

EXC 7130

Definition of Language

code employing signs, symbols, or

gestures used for communicating ideas
meaningfully between human beings.
Social tool to communicate meanings,
feelings, and intentions.
Language comprises of receptive skills
(understanding) and expressive skills (use)
and includes both written and oral forms.

Theories of Language

Behavioristic: Skinner
Infant begins with no knowledge of language, but
possesses ability to learn it through reinforcement
and imitation

Nativistic or psycholinguistic: Chomsky

Child is prewired for language development and
the environment triggers its emergence

Interactionistic: Piaget
Language occurs through fixed developmental

Language Components & Skills





Functionalist Language Theory




Study and use of individual sound units in a

language and the rules by which they are
combined and recombined to create larger
language units.
Phonemes are the unit of sound such as /s/
or /b/ , they do not convey meaning.
Phonemes alter meaning of words when
combined (e.g., sat to bat).

Phonological Deficits

appear as articulation

Child omits a consonant: oo for you
Child substitutes one consonant: wabbit
for rabbit
Discrimination: child hears go get the nail
instead of mail


Study and use of morphemes, the smallest

units of language that have meaning.
A morpheme is a group of sounds that refers
to a particular object, idea, or action.
Roots can stand alone (e.g., car, teach, tall)
Affixes are bound such as prefixes and suffixes
and when attached to root words change the
meaning of the words (e.g., cars, teacher, tallest)

Morphological Deficits

Elementary aged: may not use appropriate

inflectional endings in their speech (e.g.,He
walk or Mommy coat).
Middle school: lack irregular past tense or
irregular plurals (e.g., drived for drove or
mans for men).
Be aware of Black English: John cousin
fifty cent, or She work here.


of the rules by which words are

organized into phrases or sentences in
a particular language.
Referred to as the grammar of the
language and allows for more complex
expression of thoughts and ideas by
making references to past and future

Syntactic Deficits

the length or syntactic complexity

(e.g., Where Daddy go?).
Problems comprehending sentences
that express relationship between direct
or indirect objects.
Difficulty with wh questions.


larger meaning component of

More than single words, includes
complex use of vocabulary, including
structures such as word categories,
word relationships, synonyms,
antonyms, figurative language,
ambiguities, and absurdities.

Semantic Deficits

Limited vocabulary especially in adjectives,

adverbs, prepositions, or pronouns.
Longer response time in selecting vocabulary
Fail to perceive subtle changes in word
meaning: incomplete understanding and
Figurative language problems.


and ability to use language

functionally in social or interactive
Integrates all the other language skills,
but also requires knowledge and use of
rule governing the use of language in
social context.

Pragmatic Deficits

understanding indirect
requests (e.g., may say yes when
asked Must you play the piano?).
May enter conversations in a socially
unacceptable fashion or fail to take
turns talking.
Difficulty staying on topic.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Difficulty with readiness skills: counting,

naming colors, naming the days of the week,
and using scissors.
Unable to follow simple directions, follow a
story line, or enjoy listening to stories.
May exhibit immature-sounding speech, word
finding difficulties, and inability to name
common objects.

Elementary Students

Limited ability to identify sounds, analyzing

and synthesizing sound sequences and
segmenting words.
Problems with temporal and spatial concepts
(e.g., before-after, some, few).
Word finding (retrieval) difficulties exist.
Problems sounding out and blending sounds.
Problems with expressive and oral language.

Secondary Students

Tend to be passive learners and lack

metacognitive skills.
Problems gaining information from class
lectures and textbooks, completing
homework, following classroom rules,
demonstrating command of knowledge
through test taking, expressing thoughts in
writing, participating in classroom
discussions, and passing competency exams.

Bilingual and Culturally Diverse


Assessment should be conducted in the

students primary language.
Assessment should examine writing, reading,
listening, and speaking skills.
Assessments should include both quantitative
measures (i.e., formal tests) and qualitative
measures (e.g., observations, adapted test
instruction, and a language sample).

Formal Language Assessment

Standardized instruments used to compare a

students performance with pre-established
Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals,
Peabody Picture Voc. Test

Screening Tests
Provides general overview in particular area can norm

Diagnostic Tests
Measure one or more specific language components.
See Table 6.3

Informal Assessment

used to affirm or refute the results

of formal measures.
Determine specific instructional
Use large sample of items and repeated
opportunities for observations.

Informal Tests of Phonology

Analyze students production of phonemes in

single words.
List of all the consonant phonemes + pictures to
depict words containing each phoneme (e.g.,
picture of a pot for initial /p/, map for final /p/).
Include a comments section to describe the error
Provide prompts Tell me about your weekend
for 3-minute sample, count correct and incorrect

Informal Test of Morphology

Determine mastery level of each morpheme

in a hierarchy (Brown, 1973).
ing: present a picture of girls playing and say
The girls like to play. Here they are
________. Student adds missing word.
Show a series of 20 action pictures and ask
student what they are doing.
Accuracy below 90% - morpheme has not been

Informal Tests of Syntax


syntax: analyzing students

spontaneous speech, recording
Sentence repetition: teacher states a
sentence and student repeats it.

Informal Tests of Semantics

Logical relationships, cause-and-effect, and

verbal problem solving are difficult to assess.
Verbal opposites: SRA picture cards of 40 pairs
of opposites. Student sorts them into
Word categories: Teacher says a word and
student says as many words in the same
Semantic relationships: analyzing spontaneous
speech while playing or interacting with friends.

Informal Test of Pragmatics


spontaneous speech through

Transcribe tape see figure 6.3
Classify pragmatic function
Measure inappropriate loudness, talking
at inappropriate times, interrupting the
speaker, and using indirect requests.

Strategies for Increasing

Language Comprehension

Establish eye contact and cue student to

Ask student to repeat directions.
Classroom arrangement to reduce
Use familiar vocabulary when presenting new
Present new concept in as many modalities.
Teach memory strategies (e.g., visual imagery,
clustering and grouping information).

Strategies for Increasing

Language Production

React to the content of students message,

then correct syntax error.
Teach language in various settings.
Act as a good language model, have students
imitate what they hear.
Comment or elaborate on students ideas to
provide more information.
Use storytelling, role playing, or charades to
improve verbal expression.
Use structured language programs that provide
adequate practice.

Students with Mental Retardation

Develop language more slowly, including both

receptive & expressive delays
Often dont use make use of incidental
learning opportunities
May have insufficient interactions with
children with more skilled language use
Frequently less effective in social

Students with Behavior Disorders


possess age-appropriate skills at

phonemic and morphemic level, but
have difficulties with syntax, semantics,
and pragmatics
Difficulty expressing ideas, feelings,
concerns, and needs
Oral language may be contain profanity
Difficulty with social communication

Students with Learning Disabilities

Problems understanding or using spoken or

written language (definition)
Problems with word retrieval and word choice
Ambiguity and lack of cohesion
Inefficient decoding of messages presented
by speech of others
Uneven language abilities in both school and
social settings