Every SLP needs resources and evidence-based practices on grammar intervention because half our caseloads have students with goals in this language area! Much of my career as a speech therapist has worked with students with goals targeting grammar, syntax, or morphology. Many of my students with receptive and expressive delays with syntax and morphology often have delays in other language domains. For example, students exhibiting errors with word order, verb tense, or marking plurals will also demonstrate weaknesses with vocabulary, oral comprehension, and narratives.

Today, I am sharing some articles about strategies for implementing effective grammar intervention. If you scroll down towards the end, I also include grammar speech therapy activities to help you implement these grammar interventions.

Implement Effective Grammar Intervention With These Principles

When reading these different articles, I found there is no “must use this technique always” when treating grammar goals.  However, there are some really good guidelines that researchers have found helpful when you, the clinician, are creating a treatment plan for improving receptive and expressive language in this domain. 

10 Principles of Grammar Intervention was an excellent article that outlines what a clinician should consider when developing therapy plans for a student.

Fey, M.E., Long, S.H., Finestack, L.H. (2003). Ten principles of grammatical intervention for children with specific language impairments. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12: 3-15

Some of the principles shared in the grammar intervention article are as follows:

  • The function of improving a child’s expressive grammar is to have better language to communicate orally or in written form effectively. Thus, we should target skills that will help improve their communication (a tip for writing/choosing goals) or help them progress with common core standards and academic activities.
  • A clinician may get more “bang for their buck” if they target grammar by broad grammar patterns versus “isolated” grammar targets.
  • “When grammar is targeted, it should be treated in ways that lead to improvements in other domains, such as storytelling, comprehension and expression of expository text, and reading comprehension.”

Speech Therapy Grammar Strategy That Gets Good Results

A randomized clinical trial looked at two grammar treatment procedures of recasting and a cuing hierarchy in 31 five-year-olds to see which treatment would yield better results.

Here is what they found:

First, the fancy term “recasting” is simply the clinician implicitly responding to a child’s response with the correct grammar and emphasizing the correct word like, “I really love cookiessssss too.”  This grammar strategy helps keep the flow of conversation going without having to stop and correct the child. You’re welcome for learning a big fancy speech therapy word…now go sprinkle that into your IEP meetings to impress some folks, lol.

In the study, when a child in the recast group made a grammar error, the SLP would do a “recast” and move on with the lesson, using recasting every time there was an error.

With the cueing group, when the child made an error, the SLP went through a hierarchy of scaffolding techniques to work on having the child correctly produce the grammar structure.

The overall study found that the cueing group made more growth then the recasting group.

So, children with speech and language impairments appear to be responding to implicit grammar intervention that provides cueing and allowing the child to say the sentence again to correct his/her error.

Learn about grammar activities to use in your speech therapy sessions.

The Effectiveness of Two Grammar Treatment Procedures for Children With SLI: A Randomized Clinical Trial.  Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2015, Vol. 46, 312-324. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0041 Karen M. Smith-Lock, Suze Leitão, Polly Prior, and Lyndsey Nickels

Practical Tips For Planning Your Language Therapy Sessions

 Now, time for the practical tips for implementing these findings!  Typically, I will do one or two structured therapy sessions filled with cueing and explicitly teaching the grammar components I want to target. It will include visual sentence strips, visuals of the rules, worksheets, lots of modeling, and having the student try to use the grammar rule correctly.

 

Then, my next two sessions are filled with activities the child may be asked to do in the classroom.  It works on generalizing or applying the skill to a more complex task.  I will often use books, storytelling, sequencing activities, answering wh-questions, describing nouns by attributes, play-based speech therapy activities (i.e., play dough, cars, tea party, etc.), or picture scenes to work on grammar.  During this time, I am modeling, expanding, and “recasting” (it feels good to word drop some fancy language terms here, lol). These sessions allow me to let them hear correct grammar modeled to them, which is important to the process.

Grammar Speech Therapy Activities That Align With These EBP Research Articles

In the Themed Therapy SLP membership, we provide 24 unique verb flashcards to use with sensory bins, games, and sentence strips. You can work on conversational recasting and explicitly having students practice their targets. Furthermore, we include sequencing short stories, book companions, and vocabulary task cards that allow you to work on grammar structures while targeting other language domains.

In my seasonal grammar and vocabulary activities set, there are also a variety of activities for targeting verbs, third-person singular, pronouns and more! If you like using evergreen activities, this set would work well.

The Regular and Irregular Verb Grammar Worksheets are easy to prep for explicit and implicit instruction! They come with visual posters and lots of opportunities to practice verb action targets.

Incorporating writing in your grammar intervention will help build your student’s confidence with this skill. That’s why I created the build-a sentence grammar worksheets so you can help kids not be afraid of writing more complex sentences while also targeting wh-questions, syntax, vocabulary, and inferencing.

 

Free Grammar Speech Therapy Resources To Use In Your Sessions

Regarding conversational recasting during play-based speech therapy activities, developing verbs on the spot can be hard. That’s why I created this free action verbs checklist so you can mark off what you have modeled during a session. When you conversationally recast 24 unique verbs, the child can learn the morpheme quicker!

Another tool I often use with books, real photos, or videos is my FREE sentence frame graphic organizer. Using this visual support helps my students see the parts of speech and how to set up a sentence when describing what is happening.

What Questions Do You Have About Grammar Intervention?

I know it can feel overwhelming to know where to start with language intervention, especially regarding grammar. It can be so complex! If you have a question about evidence-based grammar interventions and how to use them in therapy, leave a question below or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com

Get grammar strategies to use in your speech therapy sessions that work!
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