I interviewed Wendy Woods, the teacher I am working with one day a week in a practicum setting, about her language intervention strategies. There are 5 Deaf/hh kindergarteners in her class, all of whom have delayed language in all modalities (Sign, spoken, written). Only 2 of the 5 can write their names and only 1 of the remaining 3 can recognize her name. The teacher's primary intervention strategy with all five students includes arranging hands-on, real-life experiences in which the student will be interested and will have the opportunity to use language. They spend lots of time talking about what will happen, what is happening, and what has happened. For example , for a field trip to the zoo she would spend a couple of weeks building vocabulary that they might use at the zoo such as animal names and try to prepare the children to be able to talk about what they will see when they get there. Then at the zoo they will interact (within a T.C. setting) talking about everything they see . After the trip the teacher will continue the interactions about the zoo. She says returning to the topic again and again is the most important so the students can continue using what they have learned in a more and more abstract context. Moving on to other context might include reading books about the animals they saw, drawing/making pictures of them, singing songs about them, and making up their own stories about the trip or an animal (this last example is a little advanced for this particular group of students but the others are valuable and fun!). In short this intervention strategy includes the following four steps
As a student I'm always learning the newest strategies and every thing I've been learning about language intervention would suggest that the first step is misplaced although in practice I'm not convinced of that. Function dictates form it's true but in real life rules always have exceptions. This strategy seems to work for Ms. Woods and her students. Would it work better if they just started learning the vocabulary when they got to the zoo, when they had real function for it? I'm not so sure. I agree they would have more use for it when they actually get there but there is alot to be said for the learning that is happening during the preparation. As part of everyday language we talk about what we will be doing tonight , tomorrow, or next week. When we talk to hearing children we ask them about upcoming events or tell them what we will be doing in the future, even if it's something they've never done before they'll probably remember the words. Ms. Woods approach seems very real and very successful to me and I hope of value to anyone who reads this!