School-aged children who are experiencing difficulties in school with expressive and receptive language benefit immensely with intervention targeting grammar. To make substantial change and progress in their language intensive intervention is necessary.

Children who have language impairments often produce short, simple sentences. These sentences are typically not grammatically correct nor structured in an intelligible sequence to allow a person to make sense of their ideas. They also have difficulty comprehending long and complex sentences. These difficulties, if present early in the child’s life, are most likely to continue through their schooling.

There are two main methods used to assist in improving grammar, they are being implicit grammar facilitation methods, and explicit meta-linguistic methods.

Grammar Facilitation Methods

The aim of this implicit method, used with preschool and primary aged children, is to improve a child’s expressive language. Four approaches can be used:

  1. Imitation – This approach involves the Speech Pathologist providing a picture and very explicit instruction, and the children are asked to copy the Speech Pathologist. This is an excellent method for developing a child’s sentence structure.
  2. Modelling – This approach involves the child listening to examples of the target structure. This mode of delivery had a greater impact on the child’s correct understanding and use of the target.
  3. Recasting – This is a non-intrusive conversational approach. The Speech pathologist does not produce the target to be repeated, but rather follows the child’s lead and manipulates the play to achieve the grammatical forms to provide correction when required. The Speech Pathologist does not correct the grammar directly, but instead follows up the child’s utterance with the correct sentence structure. For this approach to be effective there needs to be a large density of opportunities to recast.
  4. Combined Grammar Facilitation Approaches – This is a combination of all of above approaches. Modelling and recasting together have shown to achieve good results. When using a combination of approaches (modelling and recasting) It has been proven that they lead to generalisation of newly learned grammatical rules to spontaneous discourse and for increasing grammatical accuracy.

Explicit Methods

Meta-linguistic approaches involve predominantly explicit teaching of language, often in the context of specific visual cues.

  1. Colourful Semantics – Colour coding is frequently used in metalinguistic approaches. This approach can be sued with children as young as four years.
  2. Shape Coding – A combination of shapes, colours and arrows to indicate phrases, parts of speech and morphology. This approach is for primary aged children.