Language disorders that are often referred to as speech disorders interfere with an individual’s ability to speak. Quite often, the conditions are more prevalent to males than females. In addition, there are numerous disorders and each has its own distinct symptoms. The most notable symptoms include prolongation, repetition and blockage of sounds or words. It is evident that language disorders such as stuttering affect communication, a factor that is likely to affect academic performance among students.
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This paper explores the strategies, augmentative and associative technology devices that can be used to help students in language development and learning. Moreover, it will highlight on communication skills that can be used to teach and help such students during the process of learning so that they match with normal learners.
According to Reed (2011), language disorder is a deficit that inhibits effective passage of communication and language use. Research has shown that language disorder often affects the speech pattern of an individual. There are numerous types of language disorder among students. Moreover, language disorders are often caused by numerous factors such as loss of hearing, neurological impairments or damage of certain parts of the brain that are involved with language development (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008).
There are distinct symptoms that students with language disorders exhibit. For instance, students who have stuttering disorder have difficulties in speaking fluently. It is against this backdrop that this paper intends to outline the strategies that are used to help students with language problems and also augment the assistive technological devices that can be used to foster language development (Vinson, 2011). Moreover, this paper will also explore the communications skills which a teacher should use to help such students.
Strategies to use while working with students with language problems
Whitaker (2009) argues that language problems among students can be grouped into several categories that are related to communication. For instance, there are problems associated with hearing, speech, language development and fluency. However, the most common disorder is the speech impairment that involves articulation and voice. In this case, articulation involves numerous aspects of speech such as sounds, phonology and syllables.
In line with this, there are considerable aspects attached to the voice such as quality, pitch, fluency and intensity (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008). It is notable that stuttering is a disorder that falls in the category of speech impairment. In this case, the disorder results into interruption of the fluency in speech. It is important to note that majority of the students who suffer from the disorder get affected right from childhood.
In most cases, students who develop such a disorder in their childhood stage may experience the condition persisting to adulthood. This impairment inhibits communication by causing lack of proper fluency when communicating (Reed, 2011). It is characterized by repetition of sounds and extension of speech sound that occur unintentionally. In most cases, students with stuttering disorder often pause in their speech since they are unable to produce specific sounds at some point while communicating with other people (Fletcher & Miller, 2005).
It is imperative to note that communication is crucial and acts as a gateway to gaining educational experience among students. In this case, a teacher should understand and identify eligible students who have language problems (Vinson, 2011). As a matter of fact, a teacher should be in a position to come up with appropriate strategies that can be used to help students with such difficulties to learn.
These strategies involve applicable support and services that can be provided to students in order to foster proper language development or even cope with the impairment (Whitaker, 2009). However, it is worth noting that the level and type of speech disorders vary from one student to the other. This implies that strategies to be used will be determined by the type of language disorder (Reed, 2011). In this case, it is imperative that the teacher should have a diagnostic criterion that will enable him/her to identify a particular disorder in a student.
This is important since certain language disorders might become empirically validated in students especially if there are no other factors that are likely to affect their language development (Reed, 2011). In this case, teachers should take time to discern language disorders that are inconsequential among students yet they are likely to affect learning.
Whitaker (2009) comprehends that a teacher should have a referral checklist when he notes the type of disorder, behavior associated with it and how often the problem becomes noticeable. Moreover, in a referral checklist, the teacher records the student’s reactions, peer reactions and even the referral reactions. Consequently, after a careful assessment and screening, the teacher should be capable to identify intervention measures that will be relevant to the student’s problem (Fletcher & Miller, 2005).
Intervention measures are one of the crucial strategies that help a teacher to work effectively with students who have language disorders (Rhea, 2007). Notably, these measures are arrived at after a professional consensus is made in regard to the existing problem. It is imperative to mention that intervention measures are mutually inclusive in the sense that both the school administration, teachers and the student must come together in order to provide a remedy for the problem (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008).
As a teacher, one should make the student recognize and accept that he or she has a communication disorder and confirm that the situation can be improved. Moreover, the teacher should take a major role in helping a student to modify behaviors that are associated with the disorder. At this juncture, it is imperative to mention that most of language disorders require behavioral intervention rather than pharmacological measures (Reed, 2011).
A teacher should formulate intervention objectives that will act as a guide in the process of helping a student to learn and develop language effectively. Intervention objectives should be detailed and include strategies that a teacher will use to help a student to learn and manage existing behavior. That’s notwithstanding, a teacher need to identify skills and techniques that to be used in order to improve communicative performance of a student.
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Moreover, such skills and techniques should foster the student’s ability on language use (Fletcher & Miller, 2005). Succinctly, a teacher should opt to use techniques and skills that will eventually boost the student’s meta-cognitive, meta-pragmatic and meta-linguistic abilities. Besides this, self-regulated strategies are crucial in helping learners to improve their language skills.
In this case, students with language problems should also take the initiative to identify their weaknesses in language such as difficulties in pronouncing certain sounds or words (Fletcher & Miller, 2005). Students with language disorders should also have personal goals meant to boost functional communication skills.
Research has shown that self-regulated strategies should conform to the day-to-day demands of learning, communication and language skill enhancement (Argye, 2002). There are cognitive strategies which a student can apply to improve his language use abilities.
However, teachers should work along with learners in order to make this strategy effective. In cognitive strategies, teachers should encourage learners to exercise bottom-up strategy that involves repeating words that a student has difficulties in pronouncing (Rhea, 2007). In this case, a teacher needs to ensure that a student understand and pronounce words in selected texts until he is able to do it without problems. This strategy calls for authentic practice that is continuous and reinforcing (Whitaker, 2009). This gives a student an opportunity to learn how to chunk words, pause and intonation of particular speech pattern. Cognitive strategy is important and effective for students who stutter. However, through reinforces practice, students eventually acquire skills that enable them to improve their communication ability.
In this case, they are able to consistently monitor their speech fluency, pitch and the physical tension when communicating (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008). Speech pathologists recommend that students with stuttering disorder should begin with slow rate speech exercise. This involves reading, pronouncing and constructing short phrases and sentences. Eventually, students develop a natural rate of smooth speech and the speed improves with time.
Speech pathologists highly discourage punishment and permissive speaking environments since they are likely to discourage students to learn language skills. There are social strategies that can be used to help students with language problems to learn. Chiat, Law and Marshall (2008) assert that language learning and development should not be considered as an individual activity.
Instead, it should be considered as a social activity where individuals with mixed abilities interact and mentor each other. In a learning environment, students and teachers should interact, share ideas and help each other. In most cases, students develop and learn language from clarifications made by the teacher (Fletcher & Miller, 2005).
Students who stutter are often forced to repeat certain words and sentences for verification. This provides a room for correction by the teacher. Needless to say, there are students who use aberrant behavior as a means of communication and thus a teacher should interact with them to understand them (Reed, 2011).
Ideally, speech pathologists recommend schools to seek for therapeutic intervention in order to assist students with acute speech disorders such as stuttering. At this point, speech therapy calls for integrative strategies where the teachers need to consult the parents of the students. This approach emphasizes that teachers should accommodate students with language disorder and as well look for ways in which they can help them to learn (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008).
To a larger extent, this has to do with how teachers administer instructions to students with communication disorders. Instructions given in classroom should match with the pace in which a student is able to learn. Therefore, once a teacher identifies that a student has a speech disorder, he should modify the instruction environment such that the learner is not left out or feels neglected (Reed, 2011).
In addition, it is highly advisable for teachers to work closely with parents or guardians of learners with speech problems so that the best learning techniques can be devised for them. This implies that a collective approach will help to reinforce what the student learns in class and at home.
It is advisable to seek help and support from experts and service providers who have more experience in dealing with students with speech impairments (Whitaker, 2009). These include vocational instructors, counselors and speech pathologist. To a larger extent, such specialists will help to achieve developmental goals meant to help students improve language skills.
Augmentative and assistive technology devices for language development
Augmentative communication devices act an alternative for students with language impairments. In this case, students use receptive language that helps them to overcome difficulties resulting from any form of speech disorder (Fletcher & Miller, 2005). Often, this form of communication is used by students with language developmental delays, autism and poor oral expression. Such form of communication can be accomplished by use of assistive technology devices.
It is important to highlight that augmentative communication involves use of signs, symbols and signals other than speech. It is also worth mentioning that speech can be classified in terms symbols that is aided and that which is not aided. Aided symbols require external devices in order to communicate effectively as opposed to non-aided symbols (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008). External devices can be classified as high-tech and low-tech.
Therefore, there are numerous types of assistive devices that can be used to assist students with language development problems. Nevertheless, such devices depend on specific needs of a student. This is due to the fact that there are student with simple problems whereas there are those with complex language dysfunctions. Therefore, it is important to analyze the strengths and needs of a student before making a selection on the devices to use.
Factors considered include the student’s sensory-motor integration, interests, cognitive functioning, fine motor skills and the level of receptive communication (Reed, 2011). Examples of non-aided technology include use of signposts, gestures and facial expressions. On the other hand, aided technological devices include use of real objects, Braille’s, animated pictures and miniature objects (Whitaker, 2009).
Notably, all the aided tools can be used together with low-tech devices to facilitate communication and learning among students. Moreover, unaided system of communication require that both communication party to be present and in same location (Whitaker, 2009). Examples of low-tech devices include communication boards, eye gaze boards, clock scans and communication binders (Reed, 2011).
There are students who are non-language impaired and thus can use talking switch that will enable them to participate in leading especially during group study.
On the other hand, high-tech devices are usually computerized to enhance speech development. Research has shown that such devices provide students with a broad range of communication possibilities though this is not always the case (Fletcher & Miller, 2005). For instance, digitalized communication tools aids one to synthesize and tape-record speech. It is apparent that Assistive technology devices compensates for the impairments that a student might have in his expressive abilities.
Whitaker (2009) complement that these devices are crucial in the fact that they help to maintain a natural and functional level of communication. Nonetheless, it is important to point out that each assistive technology has its own strength and weaknesses.
For instance, researchers argue that Electronic fluency devices often alter the auditory input. Additionally, it also provides modified auditory feedback between communicating parties and this can result into mixed results and eventually lead to undesired outcome (Rice & Warren, 2004).
Communication skills used to teach learners diagnosed with language problems
In most cases, there are needs that a teacher can handle individually until the student’s language skills become fully functional (Vinson, 2011). Therefore, there is need to use multiple communication approaches that will be geared towards developing an emblematic communicative interface. Communication skills should be geared to improve the student’s cognitive ability to interpret and understand instructions (Chiat, Law & Marshall, 2008).
Notably, there are numerous aspects of effective communication skills such as listening, speaking and observation. Communication is a process and thus has abstract and concrete systems in it. It is evident that communication is multi-modal and it is a complex process (Reed, 2011).
In this case, for a teacher to be able to teach students with language problem effectively there are numerous tools he has to use in classroom situations. Hence, teachers should use facial expressions, gestures, vocalizations, speech and objects (Rice & Warren, 2004).
Observation skills are crucial for a teacher since he is able to identify and discerns student’s needs, interests and altitude in the learning process (Hulme & Snowling, 2009). Therefore, successful communication depends on the skills of both the teacher and the students. It is therefore important for a teacher to modify his communication skills to ensure that students understand and give appropriate feedback (Reed, 2011).
Additionally, use of listening skills allows learners to develop proficiency on language use. In this case, the student and the teacher should keenly listen to each other as they interact repetitively. This gives the teacher an opportunity to note and analyze the weakness of a student and thus he is able to select appropriate intervention measures to help the student (Fletcher & Miller, 2005).
Appropriate communication skills motivate learners to learn especially when the teacher is able to understand and respond to the needs on a student in classroom. In this case, appropriate choice of vocabularies is important and it should reflect or match with the student’s mental age (Reed, 2011). Eventually, students with language disorder such as stuttering develop communication interaction skills such as turn-taking, attention and communication styles geared towards helping a learner who has serious language problem..
To recap it all, it is vital to reiterate that language disorder is a deficit that inhibits proper communication. Language disorders can be associated with issues that affect speech fluency, pronunciation, and prolonged sound. Notably, language disorders range from simple to complex and their severity varies in degrees from one individual to another. Examples of distinguished disorders include stuttering, speech apraxia and dysarthria.
There are strategies that can be used to help students with language problems to cope with associative problems. These strategies include referrals, screening, cognitive, social and integrated approaches. All these strategies can be termed to as intervention measures. Moreover, there are augmentative and assistive technology devices that can be used to help students with language problems.
For instance, it may include use of aided and non-aided tools of communication to foster language development. Technology devices used can be classified as low-tech and high-tech devices. However, the selection of assistive devices for students depends on their strengths and needs. Communication skills play a crucial role in helping learners to develop language skills. Ideally, there is an ongoing research to device better ways of helping learners with language problems.
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