Search

The Language Fix

A blog for sharing language and learning information

Language Therapy Ideas – Helping Verbs

Blurt!  Students are instructed to state the helping verb in orally presented sentences.

First write the helping verbs on the board:  For example,  “Is Are Am Does”

Then say a sentence with a helping verb.  For example, say: “I am hungry.” The first student to say the helping verb, am, gets a point. Increase sentence length to increase complexity.

For a noncompetitive activity, write each word more than once, and instruct students to work together to eliminate all the words on the board.

Surprising Statements.  Use tag questions to verify surprising statements, such as,  “My son is seven feet tall.” or “My pet birds wear shoes.” The student is instructed to create a tag question with the helping verb.

Examples:  “He is?”  “Sarah did what?”  “Your pet birds do?” “I should have?”  “Ben Franklin did?”

Persuasion.  Write target helping verbs on the board. Student is instructed to convince a reluctant friend to go somewhere using target words. Examples of possible places:  an amusement park, the zoo, a skating rink, a rodeo, etc.

Examples:  “The rides are great.”  “There are a lot of elephants.”  “It was not crowded the last time.”  “You will have so much fun.”

Zig Zags.  Write target words on one side of page or board, and matching pictures on the other side, not directly across from each word.  When the page is finished have the student match the pictures to the words, or send home for quick and easy homework.  Zig Zags work great for differentiating common confusions, such as singular and plural helping verbs, e.g. is, are, was, were, has, have, do, and does.Screenshots_2017-04-17-15-02-35

(Find many more activities, in many other areas under the menu header above labeled, “Language Therapy Ideas.)

Objective Language Therapy Update

There are several posts here on making language therapy objective, but because they’re scattered and hard to find, I’m combining the information into a page that can be accessed from the top menu.

Objective Language Therapy is an attempt to shift SLPs’ traditionally subjective, scattered approaches into an approach that can be used to know where language impaired kids are at and where they need to go.  Instead of statements like, “He’s doing better with making sentences,” Objective Language Therapy encourages objective statements like, “His use of age appropriate prepositions in sentences has increased from 20% to 90%.” or “He requires minimal cues to produce sentences with basic prepositions, an improvement from last year when he required extensive cueing.”

True, this approach is a little tricky to learn at first, but it works.  It removes the guesswork so long a part of language therapy.  It replaces the discomfort so many SLPs feel with language therapy with the knowledge that what we’re doing is really helping kids achieve their language goals, and when they’re not it tells us what exactly we need to change.  Anybody who’s comfortable with articulation therapy will recognize several of the same concepts that make it so comfortable, with the tweaks needed to accommodate language’s unique complexity and variety.  Objective Language Therapy transforms language therapy from an art to a science.

Best of all, it’s free.  Just click on the top menu’s Objective Language Therapy title to learn all about it!

The Same Story – The Factors That Are Keeping American Education Mediocre

Yet another study popped up in my feed saying the same things about what successful educational countries are doing that America isn’t.  This study, as many of the others have been doing, looked at what foreign exchange students are saying when comparing their systems to ours.  If America ever wants to compete, these are things that have got to happen:

  1. School is harder. There’s less homework but the material is more rigorous. People take education more seriously, from selecting the content to selecting the teachers.
  2. Sports are just a hobby. In the U.S., sports are a huge distraction from the business of school, but that’s not the case in other countries.
  3. Kids believe there’s something in it for them. The students in other countries deeply believe that what they are doing in school affects how interesting their lives were going to be. Even if they don’t like a class, they see their education as a stepping stone to their future.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the parents in the U.S. pressed their kids to succeed as much academically as they do with sports?  What if every community member knew not who had the better football teams, but the better mathletes or young scientists or writers or artists?  The sad truth is that especially in poor and rural America, not only are we a long ways away, but we’re still falling.  Here’s the original story:  This researcher asked kids what’s wrong with U.S. schools. Here are their ideas.

Philosophy’s Best Bits – Aristotle

Virtue Theory

  • His definition of virtues divided them into two types: moral, which are shaped through early training and reinforced to become matter of habit, and intellectual, untitledwhich can be rationally taught.
  • All virtues have the common structure of falling between two extremes at a point called the Golden Mean. Virtues are the mean between excess and deficiency.
  • He believed that because every action and decision aims at some good, the good has been well described as that at which everything aims.
  • A virtuous response or action is intermediate. For example, it is not good to feel angry too often, or too little, because then one can be taken advantage of.
  • There are child prodigies in chess, math, and music, but never in morality, because moral knowledge comes not genetically, but only by experience.
  • According to his virtue theory, philosophy should concern itself with defining conditions of flourishing, or eudaimonia, for humans.

Eudaimonia

  • His concept of eudaimonia, which is sort of like human flourishing, is promoted by certain ways of living, just as certain ways of caring for a cherry tree will cause it to grow, blossom, and fruit.
  • We are what we repeatedly do.
  • According to his concept of eudaimonia, a tragedy toward the end of your life can potentially put a slant on whether your entire life as a whole went well. This implies the truth of the converse; that a wonderful event toward the end of your life can positively alter an otherwise bad one.

Ancient Science and Logic

  • Begins with the conviction that our perceptual and cognitive faculties are basically dependable, that they for the most part put us into direct contact with the features and divisions of our world, and that we need not dally with skeptical postures before engaging in substantive philosophy. Accordingly, he proceeds in all areas of inquiry in the manner of a modern day natural scientist who takes it for granted that progress follows the assiduous application of a well trained mind, and so, when presented with a problem, simply goes to work.
  • Aristotle saw logic as a tool that underlay knowledge of all kinds, and he undertook its study because he believed it to be a necessary first step for learning.
  • Aristotle’s most important contribution to logic was the syllogism. A syllogism consists of certain assumptions or premises from which a conclusion can be deduced. Aristotle referred to the terms as the “extremes” and the “middle.” The middle term is the conclusion that links the two extremes. A traditional example runs as follows:
    • All men are mortal.
    • All Athenians are men.
    • Therefore all Athenians are mortal.

Specific Language Therapy Ideas – Conjunctions

Look in a cookbook. Identify conjunctions. Follow directions in a recipe. Talk about the conjunctions used.

Example Statements:  “Put the ingredients in a bowl before mixing them together.”  “Mix the ingredients until all the lumps are gone.”

Talk about some games’ rules. Talk about reasons for the rules using conjunctions.

Example Statements:  “You collect two hundred dollars when you pass go.”  “The other team gets the ball whenever there’s an interception.”  “If another piece is diagonal to yours, you can jump that piece, and then take it.”

Use an atlas. Instruct students to give directions to places they want to visit.  Or, you could use Google Maps, street view, and have one student direct another with conjunctions.

Example Statements:  “Get on highway 16 after you cross the state line.”  “Turn left before 31st street.”  “Go north for twenty miles and drive until you see the exit for Pomona Falls.”  “Keep going until the end of the street.  Then turn right so we can see what’s over there.”

Give common explanations, such as for crossing the street, wearing warm clothes in the winter, not quitting when you’re behind, taking care of your belongings, etc.

Example Statements:  “Wait until the sign says walk.”  “Walk across the crosswalk after the sign says to walk.”  “Don’t go if the sign says don’t walk before you get to the intersection.”  “You’ll get cold outside in the winter unless you wear warm clothes.”  “You shouldn’t quit when you’re behind, because you still might win.”  “Use both hands to hold a heavy plate full of food so that you don’t drop it.”

Sentence Combination – Instruct Students to combine two or three phrases with limited or not use of the word and.

1) the phone rang; he answered it – After the phone rang, he answered it.

2) the girl stood up; she had to stand up to see – The girl stood up so that she could see.

3)  the man opened his umbrella; it was not raining – The man opened his umbrella although it was not raining.

4) the pen was blue; the pen broke; the pen fell – The blue pen broke after it fell

5) the boy was inside; he took off his sunglasses; he could see better – The boy took off his sunglasses inside so he could see better.

The Different Levels of Lies

Lying has obviously become a huge issue recently.  And while politicians have long bent the truth and engaged in other exaggerations and distortions, the intentions seem to be what’s changing.  The more common political lies of the past, used primarily to win individual elections, have been replaced by elaborate webs of distortions intended to use voters’ confusions as tools in constructing greedy gain.  As part of this confusion, the distraction has often been raised that because the other side has been dishonest, the voter should just, well, keep listening to the distraction of how the other side has been dishonest.  But not all lies are equal.  Not by a long shot.

For the sake of space, not all lie types could be included.  Exaggerations, misleading implications, errors of omission, and baseless claims are some other common types.  What this should all emphasize is that the word “lie” itself is a word that is almost always not specific enough.  It’s a word like “thing” or “stuff,” a filler word which can almost always be improved.

types of lies.jpg

Philosophy Best Bits – John Rawls

  • He was an American philosopher who lived from 1921 to 2002.rawls-pic
  • Rawls reconciled liberty and equality in one way by saying that each citizen has the right to the maximum basic personal and political liberties that are compatible with a similar system that can be afforded to others.  His difference principle states that social and economic inequalities should be to the most benefit of the least advantaged members of society.
  • We should put our effort into ensuring that the rules of the game are fair. Once society is organized around a set of fair rules, people can set about freely playing the game without interference.
  • The adoption of his original position would allow individual people to make political decisions which may benefit more people than the current democratic systems prevalent throughout much of the world which typically rely on rules and structures inherently beneficial to those already with power.
  • His veil of ignorance was the tool required to achieve his original position. According to this hypothetical tool, justice is best achieved by creating starting points which ignore factors extraneous to a situation. While Rawls focused on society at large, and a desire to eliminate factors such as parents’ wealth, height, skin color, etc., as is so often the case, a sports analogy may help make things clearer. Fantasy football leagues usually start from behind a veil of ignorance in which players’ draft positions are chosen only by luck.  The NFL draft does not have this veil, as it starts out with knowledge of the previous season’s records and gives extra advantage to those who need more, in an effort to create more parity.

Specific Language Therapy Ideas – Comparatives and Superlatives

Tell me Use comparisons familiar to student to ask comparing questions. For example,

Comparatives:

  • Tell me what’s bigger: a car or a bike. Expected answer:  (A car is bigger than a bike.)
  • Tell me what’s quieter: a library or a gym. (A library is quieter than a gym.)
  • Tell me what’s colder: Alaska or Florida. (Alaska is colder than Florida.)
  • Tell me what’s drier: a desert or a jungle. (A desert is drier than a jungle.)
  • Tell me what’s more expensive: a house or a candy bar. (A house is more expensive than a candy bar.)
  • Tell me what’s more delicious: liver or spaghetti. (Spaghetti is more delicious than liver.)

Superlatives:

  • Tell me who the tallest person in your family is. My cousin Joe is the tallest person in my family
  • Tell me what the biggest planet is. Jupiter is the biggest planet.
  • Tell me who your best friend is. Priscilla is my best friend.
  • Tell me the most nutritious food that you can think of. Broccoli is the most nutritious food that I can think of.

Discuss world records, such as those in the Guinness Book of World Records.  For example, “Where is the biggest piece of string in the world? Who is the best selling singer of all time?

Ask “why” questions. Use both questions that are familiar to student as well as ones that are personally relevant. Require the use of comparatives and superlatives.  For example:  “Why don’t you like classical music instead of rock and roll?”  “Because rock and roll is better than classical.”  “Why can’t your little brother beat you in a race?”

Go on a scavenger hunt. Write a list of target comparatives and/or superlatives to find. See who can get the most.  For example, Find: the longest hall, someone taller than me, something heavier than a desk, the most confusing poster, etc.

Discuss “what ifs” using comparatives and superlatives.  These are situations where things could be different What if pencils were longer than cars? What if hammers were softer than tissue paper?

The Eightfold Path

(This is part of the Philosophy “Best” Bits series that can also be accessed from the top menu.)

Buddhism’s Noble Eightfold Path may be one of the best concepts to ever come out of any religion.  Buddhist tradition ascribes it as the fourth of the four noble truths, taught by the original Buddha, Gautama Buddha, as the way of overcoming life’s inevitable suffering.  While many may see the four truths’ admonition of life’s crappy nature as too pessimistic, it is much harder to find fault with its advice that we can better ourselves by periodically contemplating the habits of our ideas and our actions.  There are many excellent explanations of the Eightfold Path on the internet that can easily be Googled, and that go into more detail than the very basic outline I’ll provide here:

Right View – One aspect of this is that we should really try to understand The Noble Truths.  Another aspect of Right View – that the world, and us, and our possessions are impermanent – can truly help us come to separate our views of things from how things really are.

Right Intention – It’s not enough to just do the right things.  We must habituate doing the right things for the right reasons.

Right Actions – We should attend to the effects of our actions, and attempt to adjust our future actions accordingly.

Right Speech – Be aware of the harm our words can do, especially gossip and non-constructive criticism.

Right Livelihood – I like this one, because I’ve really seen nothing like it anywhere else.  Sure, we all have to earn a living, and often we have to do things we’re not crazy about in order to provide for our families, but sometimes this involves doing things which help small groups of people at the expense of society as a whole.  A well contemplated life will involve scrutiny of one’s vocation as well as the consideration of change if necessary.

Right Effort – Buddhism stresses the middle way.  We should be constantly considering our actions and efforts involved.  This involves our time resources.  It may be that we are putting too much time and effort in one area, and this time and effort can be better spent somewhere else, but we can only know this through consistent deliberate attention.

Right Mindfulness – This involves not spending too much time in the past or in the future, but instead attending to the present task at hand.

Right Concentration – Can we block out distractions effectively?  Can we properly distinguish between distractions and what’s really important?  If not, try to do better.

Here’s a good visualization of The Eightfold Path, from the Mindful Teachers website.

Specific Language Therapy Ideas -Clauses/Phrases/Expanding Sentence Length

Say More!”, an embedding activity:

Directions: Squeeze the following sentence parts into already existing sentences to make them “say more.”

Example #1  sentence parts: with the beautiful hat, that had hopped all the way from the swing, next to the piece of paper, after finding the critical clue

Sentences:

  • The girl was riding a bike.
  •  The pencil rolled on my desk.
  •  There was a frog on the slide.
  •  The detective determined the identity of the burglar.

Example #2  sentence parts: instead of a period, when the boy was surprised, that the Governor should be impeached, between the words “if” and “you”

Sentences:

  • I don’t agree with the politician’s opinion.
  • Our teacher told us to write an exclamation point at the
  • end of the sentence.
  • The comma should be removed.

Role playing:  For example, ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant with extras and/or without some condiments.

Example statements:  “I would like a hamburger with extra ketchup and no mustard.” “I would like a drink with no ice.”

Explain the rules of a game, using conjunctions or relative pronouns.  Write down the words ahead of time, and cross off as used.

Example statements:  “Decide who goes first before you start.” “You can pick up the card that the other person laid down.”

(This is part of a list that includes more areas, and is in the process of growing ever larger, which can be found on the top menu, or by clicking here.)

What Even is a Lie?

Communication partners don’t always attempt to cooperate.  Often, the whole intention of their communication is to deceive.

The work of an important language philosopher has just gained relevance after recent events – a statement that admittedly can’t often be made.  Although this is an excellent example of how philosophy can actually help us better understand the world, evidently either philosophers are dropping the ball in getting this word out, or no one has been passing along their attempts.  Anyway, it all has to do with this sudden “post fact” world we’ve suddenly found ourselves in.  And how there have been so many distortions of the truth lately it’s blurred everyone’s ability to discern truth.  And what exactly even is a lie?

With his work, generally developed from the 1940s to 1960s, the English philosopher, Paul Grice rocked the world of academics with his theories on meaning and ordinary language.  The previous sentence is actually an example of Grice’s implicature.  I didn’t state it, but by adding the words, “of academics” to the phrase “rocked the world,” I implied something beyond the sentence’s literal meaning.  By flouting the maxim of quantity, which basically says that if a person is adding more to a statement than seems necessary, he is probably doing so for a reason.  This reason is the unsaid implicature of the statement.  (My implicature was that only the academic world noticed).

In addition to quantity, Grice also created the maxims of relevance, quality, and manner.  If, when speaking, someone uses language that seems irrelevant, or of false quality, or strangely ambiguous, there must be an alternative reason why.  Another example is of a previous boss being asked about a job applicant’s previous work flouting the maxim of relevance when claiming the former employee to have “perfect handwriting.”  The inference would be that the job applicant is not qualified, since the previous boss failed to follow the maxim of relevance. Continue reading “What Even is a Lie?”

Philosophy Bits – Jean Paul Sartre

You can find tons of information about Sartre and his background all over the internet.  I just want to paraphrase a few highlights from his beliefs that I think stand out.

sartre

  • Everything we do affects not only ourselves, but by our choices and actions we are constantly setting examples for the rest of mankind.  This is similar to the old, “actions speak louder than words” adage.
  • When people would rather adhere to existing rules and norms rather than face the “terrifying” freedom of creating ourselves, we willingly possess what Sartre called, “bad faith.”
  • We should not just remain open to change, we should be vigilantly seeking change to improve ourselves and our world.
  • “Hell” is other people.  This could be interpreted to mean  that it is important to sometimes seek time to ourselves.
  • In people, existence precedes essence.  Sartre uses the example of a butter knife as the opposite, because the knife exists only after it’s purpose is known.  People exist and then make their own purposes.

Some good places to find more on Sartre’s unique philosophy:  The Philosopher’s Mail; The Existential Primer; Sartre’s “Blog”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑