Article: Teaching New Words to Children with SLI Using Interactive Book Reading
Guest Author: Gabby May M.S. CF-SLP
Interactive book reading is an intervention strategy that can be used by speech language pathologists, teachers, and parents. This intervention strategy involves an adult reading a storybook to the child or student and providing additional information about specific vocabulary words, including the meaning, spelling, and use of the word. This intervention strategy has been researched by Holly L. Storkel and Krista Voelmle at the University of Kansas, the clinical trial conducted shows that children with SLI and without language impairments can benefit both academically and behaviorally in their daily lives. This intervention strategy benefits the development of vocabulary, oral language, literacy skills, reading comprehension, and writing skills through a high-intensity version of interactive book reading. In this trial, the participants were read 10 commercially available kindergarten appropriate books and taught 36 words. Further, the children were provided pictures and highlighted vocabulary words throughout the interactive book reading to allow for increased exposure to the target words. In this trial, increased number of exposures to new words coupled with the interactive booking reading was shown to have moderate to large effects on word learning. Specifically, children with SLI benefit from the higher number of exposures to new vocabulary words, thus this clinical trial provided 36 exposures to each word over 8 weeks to improve new word learning.
The Interactive Book Reading Intervention
This ongoing clinical trial uses 10 commercially available, kindergarten-appropriate books with vibrant illustrations that support the interactive book reading; the same stimuli which were used in Justice, Meier, and Walpole’s (2005) clinical trial of interactive book reading. For each book, six “tier two,” medium to high- frequency words for mature language users were selected. The KU Word and Sound Learning Lab further states that the words selected were, “likely to be unknown by the kindergarteners.” The Interactive Book Reading Intervention protocol has 3 stages, the first stage, “Pre-Book Reading,” the second stage, “Book Reading,” and the last stage, “Post Book Reading.”
In the, “Pre-Book Reading” stage the clinician introduces the six words and six corresponding pictures, gives a synonym for each word and the definition. Following the first stage of the protocol, the clinician begins the second stage or the “Book Reading,” stage in which the clinician reads the book with the targeted words highlighted, stopping to elaborate only at the marked asterisks in the book. The last stage, “Post Book Reading,” the clinician prompts the child to talk about the words heard in the book and discusses the words in context sentences, repeats the definition and introduces an additional picture different from the previous one used. Throughout the administration of the 8-week trial, students were expected to look at the book illustrations and interact with the clinician to talk about the target words. The intensity of the intervention was achieved by 36 exposures to each word with treatment sessions repeated 6 times; books were systematically rotated to “guard against boredom and habituation” (Voelmle and Storkel, 2015).
Figure 1. “Visual Schedule for Intensity of the Interactive Reading Intervention” (Voelmle and Storkel, 2015)
Application to AAC
Interactive book reading can be used for individuals who use AAC devices. All the elements of the interactive book reading intervention work together for the effective success of new word learning during one on one therapy session, however, professionals can also implement this intervention in group settings or in a classroom.
The AAC device can be organized so specific book vocabulary is easily accessible when participating in treatment and practicing outside of the therapy session. Students’ AAC can have organized pages of vocabulary questions, comments, and phrases based on each specific book in the intervention. For example, having six separate pages designated for each of the six books in the intervention; a key question and comment on each page could be, “What does (new vocabulary word)_ mean?” and, “I like/dislike that word.”
Professionals and parents must also be conscious of new vocabulary from the intervention that the student is comfortable using to have carry over successful. An activity in therapy can involve the child selecting the vocabulary words which correspond to the pictures presented to increase exposure to the novel word. Students are provided opportunities to select the target word which corresponds to the picture and then they can be provided feedback about their selection as each target was carefully selected by the KU Word and Sound Learning Lab so it could be elaborated. Further, teachers and parents can also target the use of these vocabulary words outside of the therapy setting to help children generalize the use of the new vocabulary. For example, the exposure to these new words could improve the students’ interactions with the people around them by being able to use the word knowledge with context clues to understand what they should be doing and what the people are doing/ what their next move is.
In conclusion, interactive book reading can be used to accelerate word learning when working with students with AAC, who have a specific language impairment. Professionals and parents can work together to make vocabulary as functional and generalizable as possible to ensure the student has countless opportunities for success in all environments.
Additional information via YouTube
Holly L. Storkel explains her prior research and the above clinical trial conducted with Krista Voelmle at the University of Kansas – KU Word and Sound Learning Lab.
- Voelmle, K.& Storkel, H. L. (2015). Teaching new words to children with SLI using interactive book reading. ASHA Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 22, 131-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/lle22.4.131