English is a tricky language for many reasons. There are a lot of rules and exceptions to those rules, Of course, sometimes it gets even more confusing when you are talking to others.
For some students it may be a challenge due to being a multilingual learner. They may confuse how one language works compared to another. Other children may be very literal, and have a hard time with words and phrases which have multiple meanings. In addition to this, some may miss how tone and body language can alter the meaning of speech.
This is why it is important to take time during sessions to work with students who struggle with a variety of language and conversational skills. If they have additional practice, it will boost their confidence and more with time.
Words with Multiple Meanings
Within the world of language are words that have multiple meanings. Imagine how silly this may sound to someone who is new to English. This means that it is important to introduce young children to homonyms/homophones to assist their speech and language goals. Enchanted learning has a wonderful list which could be used within sessions.
Matching games are a fun and easy way to work on words with multiple meanings. Make cards that include a picture of a word and another which has a matching meaning written out. Both sets of a multiple word should be present to help kids. Example cards would include:
- son/small boy – a boy child in a family
- sun/beautiful sky – giant star that lights the sky during the day
- fall/colorful leaves – season also called Autumn
- fall/person on the floor next to chair – moving in a downward direction
Make a memory-style matching game and have kids use the words in a sentence for practice. Continue to add new words and practice this over multiple sessions when there is time.
Funny Expression Cartoons
Imagine how it must feel if you are a literal thinker and someone says that it is raining cats and dogs. This is something which some children who are on the autism spectrum may struggle with. Figures of speech exist and it is helpful for kids to be able to recognize them.
Michael Barton has written It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: An Autism Spectrum Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors and Everyday Expressions. This is a great resource to use with students to tackle this topic.
To tie in with reading this book or one that is similar make cartoons. These will show what expressions make you think and compare to what it really means. This will get kids thinking and follow up to see if they understood the activity.
Therapists should follow up with families at home by sharing what you have been doing at home Encourage them to chat about expressions and how they are used. Send home matching card games for younger children to practice on their homonyms/homophone lists. Do not forget to include translations of word meanings for those who are multilingual homes.