Module 13: Language Characteristics
Key Concepts and Terminology
(From Raymond, Chapter 10 and AKOM Language Module)
- A code that employs signs, symbols, or gestures. It is meaningful and used for communicating ideas between human beings. It is the processing and use of linguistic sounds, words, sentences, and discourse.
- Some sources of language problems are: simple delay in acquiring language competencies, disruption of one or more language components, and difficulty integrating the three language components.
- Who has language impairments?
A. Close to 20% of students with disabilities and half of preschool children with disabilities have language impairments
B. Incidence of speech/language impairments drops off after age 9 C. Speech language services are the most often used related services D. About 21% of all students are learning English as an additional language E. 5% of all students have difficulty using English for learning
- Sources of Language Problems
A. Simply delay in acquiring language competencies
C. Difficulty integrating the three language components
- Common Language Problems Among Learners with Mild Disabilities A. Auditory reception and perception
B. Verbal expression
C. Word retrieval in spoken language
D. Incomplete sentences or thoughts
E. Comprehending what has been read
F. Written expression
G. Social conversation
• 3 Components of Language:
o Form- phonology, morphology, and syntax
o Content- semantics
o Use- pragmatics
• 5 Language Skill Areas:
o Phonology (Sounds)
- The use of individual sounds and symbols and the rules for combining them. A. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound
B. Grapheme/Phonogram is the written symbol representing a phoneme C. Phonological Awareness relates to the segmental structure of wordsDon't forget about the age old question of The ocean’s unflushable toilet is called a?
- Phonological processing is the receiving, distinguishing, manipulating, and retaining the language sounds (phonemes) composing words (sometimes called phonology).
- A student who is good with word sounds (phonology) can break words into individual sounds (bake = /b/ /a/ /k/), can combine sounds to form words (/b/ /a/ /k/ = bake), is good with rhyming and alliterations (tongue twisters), and their speech is smooth, rhythmic, and has proper intonation (puts the correct emphasis on words). Don't forget about the age old question of Who is james baxter?
- Students who struggle with word sounds have a hard time sounding out words, have difficulty with combining sounds to form words, they have spelling errors that are way off in terms of words sounds (beffinent for benefit), and have trouble pronouncing words, especially tongue twisters.
- Some strategies for students who have difficulty with word sounds are: A. Play games that emphasize identification of discrete word sounds (like, “Which word ends with a /t/ sound?”) or manipulating of sounds (what words can you make by adding sounds to the beginning of /ak/?) B. Provide practice with segmenting words into sounds (like “How many sounds are in ‘camp?’ What are those sounds?”)
C. Provide practice belending sounds into words (like, “what word do you get if you push together /f/ /i/ /sh/?”)
D. Have students create letter-sound dictionaries that include words with particular sound patters (like, hat-bat-cat-mat-pat). Don't forget about the age old question of Who is lawrence korb?
E. Use cloze spelling exercises in which the student fills in missing letters after hearing a dictated word.
F. Coach students how to use spell check support in word processing software G. Provide audio text as an alternative to reading, or to be used in parallel with reading.
o Morphology (Word Parts)
- Morphology uses morphemes—the smallest units of meaning in a language; the vocabulary; morphemes cannot be divided and retain meaning. Problems with morphology in speech are associated with problems in reading. Free morphemes are single words in a person’s vocabulary. Bound Morphemes have meaning but can’t stand along (prefixes, suffixes)
- A student who is good with word parts (morphology) readily changes words with prefixes and suffixes (hero = heroism), identifies words that are related (submerge & subset; photograph & lithograph), and uses word parts to decode and find meaning in words when reading
- Students who struggle with morphology misspells common word parts (pre- and –tion), slows vocabulary growth due to weak word associations (such as preview and interview), and makes errors with tenses (I goed to the store.) and plurals (we saw many childs).
- Some strategies to use for students who struggle with morphology is:
A. Display how words are connected in diagrams (such as placing –ton in the center of a diagram that includes “tone,” “tonal,” “intonation,” and “tonality”). We also discuss several other topics like What is ion-dipole interactions?
B. Have students develop a word part dictionary, with several words listed for each word part.
C. Place common prefixes and suffixes on cards, along with several base words, and have students alter the base words by adding prefixes and suffixes. D. When new words are introduced, dissect them piece by piece, having students explain the various components.
E. Provide practice with altering words (such as with tense or shifting from adjective to adverb) with fill-in-the-blank activities (How do you need to change ‘poor’ to fit in this sentence? “The team is playing really right now”)
o Semantics (Words)
- The meaning component of language. It involves complex meanings of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. It also involves decoding vocabulary in the context of the language’s syntax rules. It affects language use of older students in complex written assignments requiring clear, organized communication.
- Students who are good with words (semantics) quickly grasp new terms, are unfazed by technical vocabulary, comes up with specific words without noticeable hesitation, can use words that have multiple meanings (seal= animal and ‘seal’ of approval), and understands symbolism
- Students who struggle with semantics get confused by new terminology and terms that can be abstract (like aura) or figurative (like frigid), over-use of basic words (like stuff, things, or nice). Their spelling mistakes are related to homophones (like wait & weight, or guilt & gilt) and misuse similar words (like refrain and reform).
- Some strategies to use for students who are struggling with semantics are: A. Have students develop a “code” list for abstract/figurative terms and their meanings.
B. Wen introducing new words, explicitly connect them with synonyms and antonyms
C. Compare and contrast words through analogies (like mow is to grass as trim is to hair; avalanche is to mountain as hurricane is to coastline). D. Generate sentences or text that include vocabulary mistakes and have students identify and correct them.
E. Use cloze activities in which certain words are deleted from text and the student has to provide them
F. Provide vocabulary practice with games like crossword puzzles and password G. Provide a set of words to be used in a writing assignment
o Syntax (Sentence)
- The grammar of a language. The language’s rules governing the combining of words into sentences, and paragraphs. Involves decoding of vocabulary in the
context of the language’s syntax rules. It affects language use of older students in complex written assignments requiring clear, organized communication. - Students who are good with sentences are able to accurately follow instructions and explanations, gets proverbs, humor, and other forms of indirect meaning, understands and follows rules of grammar, and varies sentence structure when speaking and writing.
- Students who struggle with sentences have trouble using context cues to decode or define words, are often stumped by word problems, even when they can perform the needed calculations, mixes up pronouns, gets confused or tunes out when listening to complex sentences, is easily tripped by different word order, is slow to respond when answering questions or participating in discussion, and use fragmented and run-on sentences
- Some strategies to use for students who have difficulty with sentences are: A. Provide directions slowly, accentuating intonation and gestures B. Have students maintain an idiom dictionary
C. Generate sentences or text that include grammatical mistakes and have students identify and correct them.
D. Coach students to diagram sentences; sentence diagrams can also be used as templates into which different words can be placed to generate new sentences.
E. Ask students to predict what articles will be about base on their titles F. Provide a headline (like “White House Hopeful on Long Journey”) and generate multiple possible meanings
G. Give students practice building sentences with words written on cards. H. Coach students to make full use of grammar check support in word processing software.
I. Give a short sentence, (like, “The barn roof was wet.”), and have the student gradually expand the sentence in grammatically correct ways (like “because of the heavy rain, the barn roof was wet, just like after the last storm”).
J. Have students practice creating sentences on familiar topics or topics of interest.
- The ability to combine and use all language skills functionally, in interactive situations, to accomplish specific purposes. Language use must be tailored to context. Pragmatics involves knowledge and use of culturally specific skills governing interpersonal communication.
- Skills in pragmatics include:
A. Verbal skills: the use of words in conversations for functional purposes B. Nonverbal skills: use of gestures, facial expressions, proximity, posture to enhance communicative meaning
C. Paralinguistic skills: intelligibility and character of vocal utterances - Students that are good with multiple sentences maintain interest during long presentations or when reading, can draw inferences, comprehends themes,
understands cause-effect and time elements, and tells understandable stories, provides good explanations, and forms complete arguments
- Students that struggle with multiple sentences frequently asks repetitions, have trouble connecting key points in reading passages, struggles with describing things and with summarizing, their written output that is sparse, they infrequently make clarifications for the listener/reader, they rarely use figurative language—like metaphors, provides very short or incomplete responses, and their repetitive output when speaking or writing.
- Some strategies to use for students who are struggling are:
A. Give paragraphs on separate cards or story pages on different sheets and have the student put them in a logical order
B. Preview key points (for a discussion or reading assignment), highlight them frequently, and review them afterwards
C. Provide back-ups for lectures, including outlines for notes and audio tapes D. Support verbal information with visual material, such as graphic organizers (also known as cluster diagrams), models, color coding, flow charts, and demonstrations.
E. Coach students to pause frequently when reading to summarize key points and answer questions; a summary of a paragraph might be limited to just a small number of words
F. Give the student an advance warning that he or she will be asked a question, to give time for preparing a response.
G. Allow extra time for a response; sometimes just a few seconds make a big difference.
H. Give students a series of sentences that need to be logically ordered and altered for good flow (e.g., changing nouns to pronouns, inserting cohesive ties).
I. Allow students to share their knowledge nonverbally, such as by constructing a model or drawing a diagram.
J. Provide practice elaborating ideas with highly familiar topics or topics of interest.
K. Schedule different stages of the writing process (such as brainstorming, planning/outlining, drafting, and editing) at separate times so that more emphasis can be placed on a particular step.
• 4 Language Functions:
o Receptive Language/Comprehension
- Receptive language is the interpretation of linguistic sounds, words, sentences, and discourse. (in oral, written, or signing format).
- Difficulty in understanding others (receptive) can result in a language disorder ▪ Listening (or Signing)
- Listening comprehension is the understanding the meaning of orally-presented language; because no decoding is involved, listening comprehension can provide a clearer view of receptive language.
- Levels of listening
A. Appreciative listening
B. Attentive listening
C. Critical/evaluating listening
▪ Reading (or Braille)
- Reading comprehension is the understanding of the meaning(s) of printed text - NCLB critical reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension
o Expressive Language/Language Production
- Expressive language is the use of linguistic sounds, words, sentences, and discourse for communication (in oral, written, or signing format) - Difficulties in expressing thoughts, ideas or feelings (expressive) can result in language disorders.
▪ Speaking/Oral Expression (or Signing)
- Oral expression is the communication of verbal ideas via speaking; because no handwriting or typing are involved, oral expression can provide a clearer view of expressive language
- Diagnostic signs of a speech disorder
A. Conspicuous: speech calls attention to itself and not the message B. Unintelligible: speech is difficult to understand
C. Unpleasant: speech makes listener uncomfortable or causes distress - Speech disorders: conditions that interfere with the ability to communicate (or speak) effectively. More prevalent among preschool and primary age learners. Can occur with other conditions such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities.
- Types of speech disorders:
A. Articulation: distortions of speech sounds; effective oral musculature and voice control for intelligible speech;
B. Fluency: problems in smooth production of speech; stuttering; smoothness and efficiency of speech and language production
C. Voice: problem with the sound of the voice (harshness; hoarse; to high or low; too loud or soft; strained)
- Verbal elaboration: development and extension of thoughts using language - Speech disorders include:
A. The inability to produce speech sounds correctly (articulation) B. The inability to speak fluently and clearly (fluency)
C. The inability to use voice appropriately and clearly (voice)
- Written expression is the communication of verbal ideas on paper, via handwriting or word processing software
- Core writing skills are handwriting, spelling, and composition. A. Issues with handwriting can include illegibility, lack of fluency, and laborious. These all affect the completion of written assignments in timely fashion, taking notes and reading/studying materials they have written, and completing complex tasks (essay writing)
B. Issues with spelling: efficient spellers must be able to rely on good memory, phonological and phonemic awareness, handwriting skills, phonics in the language code in use, and self-checking skills. Spelling differs from decoding in reading because there is no context to use to self-correct.
C. Issues with written composition: the student integrates language, spelling handwriting, and reading. Requires skills in syntax (mechanics) and semantics (meaning). Also requires attention to audience (pragmatics). Problems in any one of these can affect written expression and the ability to plan, draft, revise, and rewrite.
• Language Difference
- A student who struggles with language because it is not their original language. For example, a student who has moved from Mexico in the 4th grade and speaks only Spanish but is thrown into a public school in the US where only English is spoken. He is then considered to have a language learning disability because of his inability to use English properly due to the fact that his home language is Spanish. This is Language Difference.
- Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills
- BICS are language skills used in social situations (listening and Speaking). - Everyday language; used to interact with others, context-imbedded and driven. - Not cognitively demanding or specialized
- Takes 6 months-2years to develop
- BICS does not necessarily indicate proficiency in using the language for learning • CALP
- Cognitive-Academic Language Proficiency
- CALP is language used in academic learning settings
- Uses of all four functional skills for learning
- Necessary for academic success
- It takes time to develop CALP, often 5-7 years, or more with insufficient support - Requires use of extended vocabulary for higher order thinking and learning tasks • Literate Language
- Mode of language that is more formal/structured; utilized for academic work; is often decontextualized, meaning that it is not laden with highly familiar topics and tends to be more abstract
- Anything that relates or pertains to language
- Individual sound in words (e.g., the word “bat” contains three phonemes: /b/ /a/ /t/); English contains 44 phonemes, which are linked with letters for phonics • Morpheme
- Components of words that convey some meaning (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, inflectional endings, and root words)
• Word Retrieval
- Recall of precise words with adequate efficiency/speed
- Extended pieces of language (e.g., paragraphs, reports, extended explanations, narratives) that may relate a story (narrative) or convey information (expository) - Discourse processing: interpretation of language extending beyond the boundaries of sentences (e.g., lectures, verbal explanations, paragraphs, passages, books)
- Discourse production: generation of extended pieces of language (e.g., paragraphs, reports, extended explanations, narratives) in a cohesive chain of sentences
- Linking speech sounds (or phonemes) with printed letters and letter combinations
- Verbal intonation, inflection, phrasing, and tonal variation during speech or oral reading.