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Language Development & Disorders: Q&A (Episode 12)

This is Part 3 of our series on Language Disorders and Development. In this episode, Cynthia and Dana answer some questions that were asked after their session on Language Development and Disorders in March 2021. You can watch the first two parts of this series here:

Episode 6: How Language Develops

Episode 7: How to Stimulate Early Language Skills

Some of the questions addressed in this episode are:

  • The difference between a delay and a disorder
  • The difference between language and communication
  • Helping students with language problems
  • When parents understand a child but others don’t
  • Why to bother with a diagnosis if I think my child will grow out of it
  • Heredity vs lack of stimulation
  • What to do when strategies aren’t working
  • Helping students who speak multiple languages
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This podcast is produced with the support of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay and Jordan’s Principle.

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TRANSCRIPT: Language Development & Disorders: Q&A (Episode 12)

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Welcome. My name is Cynthia Miller-Lautman and I’m an occupational therapist and intervention team leader at Disability Programs Specialized Services.

Dana Lawlor

And I work with Cynthia. My name is Dana Lawlor. I am a speech-language pathologist and a clinical advisor on the Disability Programs team with Cynthia.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah, and we’re excited because during training week that we held in March 2021, we, the Disability Programs Specialized Services team, did several online information sessions about different disability topics. And Dana and I spoke about developmental language disorder and also early language stimulation. But in the last 30 minutes of our presentation of the afternoon, we received and answered so many related questions and we were really excited to dig into this.

Dana Lawlor

And this is a really big topic. And because there’s so there were so many of you participating. Thank you so much for that. We were really we’re not really able to dig into every question. Right, Cynthia? And we might want you we wanted to further explain some things. So we’re recording this today as the third part of our series in the hopes that by listening or watching, you’re going to get some clarification and you’re going to get some more information. But if you really want to know where these questions are coming from, we encourage you to go back to our web page, disabilityprogramsspecializedservices.org and look for the podcasts where on episode six we talk about what is developmental language disorder, And on episode seven we talk about how to stimulate early language skills.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

That’s great. Dana Yeah, so we’re really excited to answer the questions. So all of these questions that I’m about to, to read it to you came from our chat. So we had a chat box on our online version and people type these in. So these are really coming from people, teachers, educators, caregivers. So I thought we could just dig in. I have the first one right now Dana.

Dana Lawlor

Go for it.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Great. So this is one that came up a couple of times in different ways, but it was “What is the difference between a language and a speech delay or disorder?” So delay versus disorder.

Dana Lawlor

Right. And to be able to talk about delay, disorder, when things go wrong, we we need to back up and talk about what are these things, right? What is language, what is speech? People get them, you know, understandably, people get them confused and have a hard time distinguishing and differentiating them. So let’s just start with that piece. So there are two parts. When we’re talking about language, there’s two parts to language. There’s the comprehension or the receptive language. So when you’re thinking about receptive, receiving, and then there’s the expressive part to language. And expressive is really how we use language, right? So it starts with words like if we had a word like dog, and then there’s little parts to language too, depending on the language that you’re using that often carry meaning. So for example, in English we would say one dog, two dogs. That s at the end of dogs carries a meaning. It means that there’s more than one dog that’s part of language. And then how we put those words together to make a sentence like, “I have a big dog.” and not “Big dog, I have.” Right? Those are all those rules putting words together, how it makes sense. And eventually when we’re putting those sentences together to tell a story or to retell an event, that’s language. So I could say something like “I have a big dog at home, and his name is Rufus. He likes to sleep on my bed every night.” So I’m telling you a story and I’m using my language to tell you. So that’s the expressive part of language we’re talking about. Then the comprehension or the receptive part of language. And those are the messages that we understand that that we receive the directions that we follow, the stories we understand. And we can also talk about reading comprehension. So we talked in our podcast about building that comprehension, that piece under the water.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

And just to clarify Dana, comprehension is not hearing, it’s really understanding. And so sometimes parents say but they’re hearing is fine. I’ve checked it. Yes, absolutely. That’s a great start. Just to clarify, that comprehension is is not hearing it’s great if many parents say that they’ve gotten a hearing test and their child’s hearing is good and that’s a great place to start. But comprehension is understanding, as Dana said.

Dana Lawlor

Exactly.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

It’s about making sense, right, of the message.

Dana Lawlor

Actually is being exactly is being able to you first hear it and then being able to make sense of that message that you hear. Exactly. Yeah. So and then if we were to talk, Cynthia, about speech, right? We talked about language. We talked a little bit about hearing and how that factors in and now speech. Speech is the sounds of language. It’s when people are talking that is one form of language, right? So speech needs the movement of the tongue, the lips, the jaw, the palate to make those sounds. And speech essentially is the verbal component of language.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. And I really remember my son had trouble making the sounds. He knew the words to say. He had trouble getting his mouth to move in a way to see an “S” or a “W” sound. A “w” sound. So he had trouble learning that and he had to see a speech-language pathologist to help him learn how to make those sounds with his mouth.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. Yeah. And there are different reasons why making sounds might be hard for a child, and there are different speech problems. So speech and language are different. And those are the two big areas that a speech-language pathologist will investigate during an assessment. So someone can have difficulty in both areas or in one.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

And so it really will be the speech-language pathologist that over time will determine if it was just a delay or if it actually is a disorder.

Dana Lawlor

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Great. Okay. So another question similar, but. Okay, another one. What is the difference between language and communication?

Dana Lawlor

Okay. So let’s bring in the piece of communication. So we talked about language, receptive, expressive language, and now we’re bringing in the communication piece. We hear people talk about communication. So communication is a very global kind of big umbrella term that we use. It’s all the ways that we use to get our to get our message understood, right?

Dana Lawlor

It’s our facial expressions. It’s pointing. It’s pointing to pictures or images. It’s gestures. It’s our tone of voice. It could be through sign language. It could be through writing, like through emails or text messages. It’s all the ways that we get our messages across and how we receive those messages, right? Like listening, reading and looking. So it’s a big term.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Okay. So I guess just to make real of that, so someone could be able to communicate, but they don’t have words because they would communicate through their gestures and their facial expressions and writing. But they don’t have words, but they’re still communicating?

Dana Lawlor

Absolutely. Absolutely. If you’ve ever seen one who’s like who uses like ASL or American Sign Language to communicate, they are communicating. They may not be, you know, using you, talking the way that we we are talking right now, but they are communicating very much with their faces. Right, with their gestures, with their with their signs.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. And so that that’s something I think as we’re having more sensibility to people with disabilities, is that just because someone doesn’t talk doesn’t mean they’re not communicating.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. Yeah.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

The little. Piece I want to.

Dana Lawlor

And doesn’t mean that they’re not very intelligent right. Or bright and there’s underlying whether or not you talk doesn’t actually say anything about how what you can do in life or how intelligent you are. Right.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Right. Okay. Next question. So this is from a teacher and it said, “I have a student who has a hard time in speaking and in learning. How can I make learning for him much easier to understand for me?”

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Dana Lawlor

Well, that is a really that’s a really big question. And we got a few of these questions. Cynthia, where people really wanted to know about a specific person that they had in mind. And it’s really not possible for us, unfortunately, to kind of to get in to it. And so what we’re going to disappoint you a little bit because I’m not going to be able to give you specific answers in order to be really helpful. We need to know you and the student to be helpful to you. We really need to be able to know that student right.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

You know, and then I have maybe a little story that I could… because I was an occupational therapist that worked in a school and I never ran into the speech-language pathologist. So I was on my own. And if I had to figure out or if the teacher and I had to figure out, what could the student, what was their language level, what was their communication level? Well, really, simply speaking, this is putting it very simply. But we would go to his file and we’d actually go read the speech-language report. And if he doesn’t have one, then we’d go somewhere else. But then I’d become a detective. If there was no report, I would ask the parent “How do they communicate? What is the best way? How do they tell you what they want?” I would go to the last year teacher who probably has so much knowledge after having spent a year with the child. Who else knows him in the school? Who else could give you some information? So just really become a detective for that student. And I guess in the ideal situation, if there was a speech-language pathologist in the school, you would obviously consult them. But not everyone has that luxury right now. So you would just become a detective.

Dana Lawlor

Absolutely. I think that’s it. That’s a great idea. And so interesting, too, because I worked in a school as well. Right. And I didn’t have a necessarily an occupational therapist around or a psychologist around. So when we’re talking about learning, learning encompasses many, many different things. So I would need to dig in a little bit and to ask the questions about, okay, does this child has specific learning needs with regards to their attention, with regards to their sensory processing? So I would need to be a detective and dig in on those aspects so that I could get a big picture of what’s going to be best to help this child learn.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. And if we go back to just the message when helping a child learn with a disability and let’s assume maybe a language disorder and you you have to make sure that they are regulated. They are in a space to learn, that their body can pay attention. We know that in general, using visuals and visual schedules really help children who are struggling with communication and language and attention issues and sensory issues. So we know these things work. So make sure they’re regulated in their body. They’re ready to learn, bring visuals in and bring visual schedules in.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. And those routines. Right. Cynthia, a lot of like those routines of visual schedules are helping you to kind of put those routines in place and all students are going to benefit from from the routine. There’s no harm in doing these things. So we encourage you to kind of try to put those things in place and it will benefit all students.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. And I just want to remind you that you can go back to our website at disabilityprogramsspecializedservices.org to search how to make a visual schedule. We have templates there and we have blog posts and other podcasts, so please go take a look. I think we’ll move on to our next question. And this came I don’t know where this came from, but I’ll read it.

“Is it still considered DLD, when another person cannot understand what your child is trying to say? But as a parent, I understand my child.”

Dana Lawlor

Oh.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

So if the teacher doesn’t understand but I understand them.

Dana Lawlor

Is it DLD?

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Is it still DLD?

Dana Lawlor

Listen, DLD. It’s not developmental language disorder until an assessment has been done by a speech- language pathologist. That’s always going to be the case. We can’t call it something until we have had the professional, the speech language pathologist evaluate, right? And do that kind of assessment to kind of come to that conclusion or not. And if others don’t understand, you know, it is a concern. You know, it is a concern because it could have some impacts on how the child can interact and play with their peers or how they can interact and understand their teachers or with other family members who maybe don’t see them as often. There can be those impacts. So if you are concerned at all, you know, we would encourage, you this is one of our big messages today, is speak with your doctor and look into getting an assessment done. I’ve seen I’ve seen frustration build in children who don’t have a reliable means of communicating. And that frustration, unfortunately, can can build and then it can, you know, turn into aggression or or other behaviours that are unfortunate, that we don’t really want the child to have to resort to if they don’t have a means of communicating. So it’s important to kind of dig in. And, you know, when you think about a child at the beginning, their world is very small and their people around them are very few. You know, they might only be the parents and the siblings and they might only need to interact with those people. But when their world starts to open up, when they start going to daycare, when they start school, it’s really important that they’re going to be able to communicate and be understood by lots of different people.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah, and if you go back to even our, you know, it’s so true. It’s easy because we understand to not take action as a parent and assume that others will catch up. But I think it is at least a red flag for you as a parent if other people are telling you not just one, but a couple, that they’re not understanding your child. It is really important to speak to your doctor because we know that early intervention, which our whole podcast on early stimulation talked about, is really important for a child’s language future.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. And their self-esteem, right. And their self-esteem and their social interactions and the impact can be quite, quite significant. So yeah, it’s good to investigate sooner than later.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

And I would also just remind if you’re on the other side and you are a teacher, letting a family know that you’re concerned, just be gentle because everyone’s journey, I know we talked about this in our training week, everyone’s journey to diagnosis is different and just be gentle, but don’t give up. If you’re concerned, continue gently bringing it up, especially if you’re in the education field and you have a lot of experience. And notice this. But also, if you’re a grandparent, just do it nicely and softly. And over time, the family will take their own journey to taking action.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah, that’s a really important message for sure.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

So I guess we can go to our next question.

Dana Lawlor

Yes, skipping right along!

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

And again, I think it’s from a parent and it says, “I think my child will grow out of it. “ I guess I grow out of their language problems. So ”I think my child will grow out of it. Why bother?”

Dana Lawlor

Hmm. That’s a that’s a sentiment that I’ve heard several times, you know, like they’re going to grow out of it or. And wouldn’t it be great if we knew it would be so great if we knew, if we knew, if we had that ability to look into the future and say it’ll work itself out. But there is no seeing into the future, right? And if we did, we’d we’d be winning the lottery all over the place. But we don’t have that ability to do that. So we don’t know if a child will outgrow their struggles or not. And if their struggles are there, their struggles need the attention and warrant us to help them, right? So early language stimulation is really powerful and it’s power to you as parents, as teachers, as community members. So it might not end up being a disorder. But stimulating, stimulating languages is always going to be helpful. It’s always going to benefit. So if there is a small gap now, we encourage you to put some energy into it, put some energy and some time into it, and it might really help in the long run. And if it is DLD, it is developmental language disorder and you provide that stimulation now then the effects of the DLD might be like smaller down the road. Right. I think Cynthia would like one of our take home messages has been if you’re if you’re not sure and if you have concerns, please talk to your doctor and have an assessment done.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. And remember that we do have some really easy things that can be put in place and that’s in our early language stimulation episode. So that was episode seven and Dana goes through some really fun ideas you can do that fit into your day because I know we say do more, do more as parents, but there’s some really neat things that she talks about in that episode of really fitting language into your day and giving your child who may be at risk of a language disorder, a greater chance of more success.

Dana Lawlor

None of us need more things to do. So we’re really hoping that these ideas and suggestions can be just layered and scattered throughout your day as you go about doing what you need to do because nobody wants more homework.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

No, no, we don’t. So, Dana, another question that came is, “Is DLD seen in children who use sign language?” So can you have DLD, but also, I guess be deaf?

Dana Lawlor

So a child who uses sign language. Yes. Is deaf or is hard of hearing. And they might have language difficulties, but it wouldn’t be developmental language disorder. It would be another type of language disorder that would be associated with being deaf or having a hearing loss. I hope that answers it.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

I think if I get it correctly, it means that, yes, you could have a language disorder associated with deafness, but it would not actually be called DLD. It would be something else.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah, exactly. It would be. The language is of associated with hearing loss or. Yeah.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Okay. What other things would you suggest for parents to do to help the child’s language development if the parents don’t know how to read or don’t feel comfortable?

Dana Lawlor

This was such a good question that came up and I’m glad we’re kind of circling back and digging back into it again because I know we know Cynthia and I, I know you and I have spoken so much about this and how we’ve, you know, exposed our own children to language throughout the years and different strategies that we’ve used. So it’s fun. These are the fun ones to do. The play-by-play strategy. If you remember, go back to our episode. If you don’t remember, if you want to hear it again. The play-by-play strategy, I think is a really, really great one to be able to use throughout your day. So you’re basically giving a running commentary of what you see or what you do or what your child is seeing or what your child is doing. It’s becoming almost like a sports commentator throughout your day. It’s that internal voice coming out.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

So, Dana, can I give an example of that? Let’s see if I remember what play-by-play is. So you’re sitting there right now and I’d be like “Dana, look at you sitting in that nice room. Wow. You’re sitting up so straight, you’ve got on a nice pair of glasses and there’s a microphone and a beautiful picture. Oh, look, I think there’s a mountain in the back of your picture.

Dana Lawlor

I love it.

Dana Lawlor

It’s perfect.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

I really like that.

Dana Lawlor

It’s perfect. That’s. That was a play-by-play. You describe what you were seeing, right? You put words in to tell me what you were seeing and what was grabbing your attention. That was great. I love it. And it is something that doesn’t you know, it feels a bit awkward at the beginning. It feels a bit weird. It’s like “Why it’s obvious. It’s obvious that she has glasses on. Why am I going to say she has glasses on?” But it’s not obvious to the child or to the person who’s learning, right? It’s not necessarily obvious. So we’re giving them that beautiful opportunity to hear the words, to go with what they are seeing. And that’s a that’s a play by play.

Dana Lawlor

One of the other things that we talked about is that you can tell a story, so you don’t need to be able to read a story, but you can tell a story. And so most nights when I’m putting my son to bed, he’s eight years old now. I tell him a story and he loves it. And now he asks. He asks for them. And sometimes I get stumped. I’m like, “Oh, you got to give mommy a minute here. I can’t think of what my story is going to be about tonight.” And you can take something that you saw during the day or something that you did during the day. And that’s often what I do and I build a story around that, right? So I’m going to give you an example like this, and this is how I start all my stories.

“There once was a boy named Steve and he liked to do fun things. One day Steve and his family decided to go for a long walk, but they didn’t want to go for a walk in their neighbourhood. So they went on an adventure. They found a forest, and they couldn’t believe all the animals that they met along the way. There were squirrels and bunnies. There were so many different birds and they couldn’t even count them all. There were so many. All the birds were singing and it sounded like a beautiful orchestra.”

And that’s how I would tell my story. That would have been something that we did during the day. We would have gone for a walk in the forest and I’m just retelling it to him again and he loves it. It doesn’t need to be new. It doesn’t need to be, you know, the most imaginative thing. Just tell a story.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah, you know, you’re making me laugh. I have a really big imagination and all my stories seem to do about candy and, I don’t know, adventure. So, for example, my husband would say to me, how do you do that? Like you’re talking about a lollipop. And I would be I would just my kids and I had a lollipop that day, and then the whole story would be about,

“Oh, in the lollipop land there was different colours. There was purple and red lollipops. And then the whole path was painted with lollipops all over.” And we would just have funny discussions anyway. It can go anywhere. They can be crazy, they can not make sense. The kids just seem to love them. And if if I get it right, Dana, you were surrounding them with language and it’s like a bath in language. And the more language you surround children in, the more vocabulary they get, the more they hear it. Especially if they’re having a hard time with language.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s that blanket of language, right? You’re going to surround them with that blanket of language. So if they were to close their eyes, they would be able to see exactly what you’re telling them with that beautiful lollipop land, right? And you’re using lots of different words. Of course, you could see the red. Of course you could see the orange, but you really want them to see it and you really want them to have that big picture. That’s exciting. I want you to tell me one of those stories one time when we’re together.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Dana, the next question that came up was, how do you know? I guess this is a parent. How do you know if it’s familial, so inherited DLD, or lack of stimulation and will attending school enough to catch them up? Or does it require some home and school stimulation?

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. That’s a good another good question. And again, there’s no real way, unfortunately, of knowing, right, until that assessment is done by a speech-language pathologist who can tease it apart to know if it really is developmental language disorder, if there’s a lack of stimulation, and what would be needed to be able to catch up, right? I can’t really answer that question, but I am going to come back again and say that there’s no harm in starting now. It’s best to give the stimulation now and does it really does it really matter? You know, if it’s DLD? If it’s not DLD, what we really do know, regardless, is that it early stimulation is the best thing and it will help all children. So please go back and listen again on how you can learn some of these strategies to be able to use them in your everyday life.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

So there was another question from a parent. So this is the parent that writes, “I am a bit sad. My son is 11 and was diagnosed with DLD two weeks ago. All the strategies that have been discussed I did from before birth and throughout his life. I am not sure what else I can do for my son because I have naturally been practicing all these strategies you talked about. My son seems to be though quite aggressive because of DLD and very frustrated. I have bought visual aids for him. He can read and write and speak well for his age. It’s his vocabulary and comprehension that’s the problem. Is there anything else I can do to support him?”

Dana Lawlor

Well. My heart goes out to you, and I’m so sorry to hear that this has been so hard for you and your son. I’m glad to hear that you’ve gotten, you know, a diagnosis and that you seem to have a good sense of of where some of the struggles lie. And you’ve done so much. So congratulations to you on being so supportive to your son. He sounds like he has so many strengths, which is fantastic. And that’s what we’re going to you know, you’re going to really want to continue to build on, but you can’t do it on your own, right? So you need you need the support in order to be able to give your son the support. And you’re going to need to to learn and to know about other strategies that are going to be really specifically helpful to your son. So, I want to know, is he being followed by a speech-language pathologist and if he’s not, then I would encourage you to go get regular support from a speech-language pathologist as she or he will be able to give you ideas of things that you can do, things that you can practice, and ways that you can help your son learn that vocabulary, righ, that will help him. I know a speech-language pathology services are not yet readily available on territory, but people are finding creative ways to get help through Jordan’s Principal and Allied Health Services are working really hard to get services on territory. So I’m really glad to say that the future is looking really bright, actually, for speech-language pathology services on territory. It’s coming.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

And even if it ends up being telehealth, especially because it’s still during COVID, but even beyond it, it helps. When I was going through the articulation problems with my son, it was a lot of work on us as a parent, but I was so grateful to have those weekly follow ups with a speech-language pathologist that would guide me and I could ask my questions too, if it didn’t work because I was just the parent and I really, really appreciated that support. So even if it was through telehealth or at the time, I would sometimes have a phone call that was that was great support to me.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah, the support is crucial especially you’ve been like the person who is asking this has been doing this for a long time and it is, it’s tiring and it’s taxing on us as parents. And so please reach out and get the support that you need to be able to kind of refill your bucket so that you can then continue to support your son.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah, and this is something we’re actually currently writing another podcast about with a colleague. I’m writing it. As a caregiver it is also important that, you know that you can ask for a case manager, which is usually a community worker at the CMC, at the clinic, that is assigned to you to help, to guide you through the steps you might need or assigned to your child, let’s say it was your son or daughter. And that’s an important step you can do to even try to access even more of those speech-language pathology services and get them into your home.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

All right. The next question and the last one of the day that we’re going to address today is, I guess again, from a teacher, I think. And it says, “I have a student that speaks French and English, but Cree at home, she just transferred to an English class this year. What can I do to help him build his learning and to understand? He doesn’t speak much. Is it because he speaks three languages?”

Dana Lawlor

So this is probably a relatively common scenario. And so I’m glad we’re talking about this. I can’t tell you exactly why he’s not speaking much and whether or not it’s because he speaks three languages. What I can tell you is exposure to multiple languages will not cause developmental language disorder, but it can be intimidating, right? If we were to put ourselves in his shoes, it can be really intimidating for people to be immersed into a different language, into a setting, you know, of instruction where the language is being used and it’s not familiar and it’s not comfortable. So what I would say is it try to continue to connect with the student and let them know that it can be hard and that you see that it’s hard for him. Maybe there’s a story that you could tell him about what maybe you’ve experienced in learning a new language or a different language or or if it’s not a language, another struggle that you’ve had in learning something new and what was helpful for you. What you really want to do right now is build up that comprehension, right? So he might be quiet because he’s just trying to get his bearings and build his comprehension. We don’t know, but maybe could be. So.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Dana, can I just jump in here, I just thought I have a neat story of my mother when she was… She came from an Italian family that only spoke Italian. And in grade one, she started school and she did know English a little bit. But mostly her spoken was was going to be Italian. So the teacher didn’t understand why she wasn’t speaking and she was understanding in the end. But it’s because it was new to her and it took her a few months to start using the words in English and not Italian. So it was normal for her at the time to not speak as much for those first six months. And I think it was after Christmas, after the Christmas break, that she was able to start speaking. But I know the teacher brought up to her parents like “We’re concerned she’s not speaking.”

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. And that that’s a relative, especially in Quebec when we have multiple many languages. Right, many beautiful languages in our province and and children who are being put into schooling in a different language. We need to give them time. We need to give them time to be those little sponges to take it in. And they’re going to go into observer mode for a while before they take the risk of saying something, ight? And some kids don’t want to take that risk, right? Some kids will really wait until they know they’ve got it right before they start talking. So I think that’s a great example. We need to give time, right. So you can also, you know, with the student, with your students, find out what your students really like and use that to help build their English comprehension. Yeah, piggyback on that. So you could use stories, you know, and stories can be used when you don’t think stories just for young children. But stories with age appropriate stories are a great way to build comprehension, making sure that when you’re giving instructions in the classroom that it’s one thing at a time, right? Developing a routine.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

Yeah. If someone’s having trouble learning with a new language, don’t give them ten steps of directions, because it’s too fast. Think of you in a foreign language. If you walked into an Italian home and someone was speaking with ten directions for you in Italian, one at a time, maybe. With a gesture? Yes. And a facial expression, you would understand. “5 minutes until recess,” you know. But if you said “5 minutes to recess, 2 minutes to put your shoes on, 10 minutes to..” you would lose the child that’s learning a new language.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s a really good, you know, five as many gestures as you can give. Right, is really, really helpful, showing the students what you like, guiding them through it, and being a model yourself for what you want them to be able to follow and do as well. Give them visuals, right? So you could be having visuals on paper, but you can also give them visuals through your body, through your gestures, and helping them further develop their comprehension that way, routines in the classroom are going to help all students, right? So you develop a routine for the whole classroom and you help all the students follow it, right? And they’re going to help each other to watching each other and they’re going to help each other follow it. Giving that play-by-play. If you as a teacher can start using a play-by-play at times when it’s appropriate in the classroom to expose these students to English, that would be fantastic. It gives them a chance to hear more and more words. Yeah. So please go back. I mean, I’m not sure how old your students are, but a lot of the strategies that we talked about in our early language stimulation pod episode can be used for many different ages. Right. I’m just modified a little bit, so please go back sometimes even practicing strategies. And when when I was starting out and learning these strategies myself, I would practice them. I would practice them on my husband. I would practice them eventually when I had kids, I’d practice them with my kids and then I was able to kind of use them and integrate them much more easily in, in my life, in my everyday.

Dana Lawlor

Yeah. So thank you to all of you who are listening, to you as parents, as educators, teachers, special needs educators, community workers, anybody who is listening in, family members, caregivers. Thank you so much for digging in with us about this. And it’s really important that we all come together as a community to support our children in learning language.

Cynthia Miller-Lautman

So, Dana, thank you so much for being here and so glad we could spend a little more time really getting into the questions that community members and staff brought up during our training week, they’re important. The stories matter and they give everything we learned more context. So thank you so much to all of our listeners and also our Disability Programs Specialized Services working group that helped us with this podcast.

Dana Lawlor

Thank you. And we’ll talk to you again soon, hopefully.

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