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Ms. Whitcomb

Ms. Whitcomb

Wisdom Lane Middle School: (516) 434-7300 | Gardiners Elementary School: (516) 434-7450

Ms. Whitcomb : Receptive Language

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Receptive Language
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What is receptive language (understanding words and language)?

​Receptive language is the ability to understand words and language 

  1. It involves gaining information and meaning from routine (e.g. we have finished our breakfast so next it is time to get dressed) 
  2. Visual information within the environment (e.g. mom holding her keys means that we are going to get the car, a green light means go), 
  3. Sounds and words (e.g. a siren means a fire engine is coming down the street, the word ball means a round bouncy thing we play with), 
  4. Concepts such as size, shape, colors and time
  5. Grammar (e.g. regular plurals: cat/s, regular past tense: fetch/ed) 
  6.  written information (e.g. signs in the environment like “no climbing”, written stories).

Some children who have difficulty understanding oral language (words and talking) may appear to be understanding because they may be able to pick up key words and get visual information from the environment or from gestures.

What are the building blocks necessary to develop receptive language?

·         Attention and concentration: Sustained effort, doing activities without distraction and being able to hold that effort long enough to get the task done.

·         Pre-language skills: The ways in which we communicate without using words and include things such as gestures, facial expressions, imitation, joint attention and eye contact.

·         Social skills: Determined by the ability to engage in reciprocal interaction with others (either verbally or non-verbally), to compromise with others, and be able to recognize and follow social norms.

·         Play skills: Voluntary engagement in self motivated activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment where the activities may be, but are not necessarily, goal oriented.


What activities can help improve receptive language?

  1. Name items together when completing tasks, such as looking at a book, in the car, looking outside, while playing or when shopping.
  2. Day to day activities: When going shopping and visiting places, such as the park, zoo or museum encourage the child to talk about what you did and saw and possibly even draw or act out what happened.
  3. Model new words: Play activities with the child that they really enjoy and throughout the game model new words and phrases.
  4. Explain new concepts in different ways (e.g. looking at the concept of “wet”: use water to wet things and talk about things that are wet and dry; look at pictures of things that are “wet”; if it rains, or the child is in the bath, talk about the concept of being “wet”; make up sentences and stories about being wet/dry).
  5. Simon says: Take turns with the child in following and giving instructions. Also, gradually increase the length of the command that is provided (e.g. ‘Simon says touch your toes’; ‘Simon says first touch your toes, then clap your hands’; ‘Simon says before you shout hurrah, count to 10’). Additionally, reinforce body parts (e.g. pat your head, pull your ear) and simple verbs (e.g. jump, shake) when playing the activity.
  6. Obstacle course: Put together an obstacle course in the house or outside in the backyard. Take turns with the child in following and giving instructions. Gradually increase the length of the command that is provided (e.g. run to the sandpit; first run to the sandpit then crawl over to the bikes).
  7. Feely bag game: Place different everyday items/objects (e.g. toothbrush, car, cup, block) into a bag. Take turns with the child in taking an item out of the bag. Encourage the child to:
    1. Reach into the bag and try to guess what the item is before taking it out.
    2. Describe characteristics about the item once they have pulled it out of the bag (e.g. colour, shape, use/function).
    3. Answer questions about the item that they have pulled out (e.g. Is it round? Can you eat it?).
    4. Guess the item that you have pulled out of the bag by asking you questions (e.g. Is it round? Can you eat it?).
  8. Books: Look at picture books with the child. Take turns in asking each other questions about the pictures (e.g. Who is in the picture? What is the girl/boy doing?). Try to think about what might happen next in the story and different possible endings.​