Date
01 April 2020

Support understanding

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Supporting language and communication skills’

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Understand receptive language

Understand receptive language

Receptive language is the ability to understand words and language and is needed to communicate successfully.

Learners who have difficulty understanding may find it challenging to:

  • understand and follow instructions
  • pay attention and listen
  • respond appropriately to questions, and requests
  • use language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas
  • form friendships and engage in positive social interactions
  • understand body language
  • understand what went wrong, especially in high stress situations
  • complete tests, exams, and academic tasks in higher level education.

Source: Kids Sense (opens in a new tab/window)

Check for understanding

Check for understanding

Work with your learners to ensure they have understood and interpreted correctly the message being conveyed.
11675 [Copy-of-CSP2555.png]

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Reduce barriers to understanding

Reduce barriers to understanding

Suggestions to support understanding.
  • Use visuals to give instructions, ask questions or show a routine.
  • Check understanding of key concepts and vocabulary.
  • Use actual objects and progress from the concrete to the abstract to teach understanding of words and concepts.
  • Before initiating conversation, ensure that the learner’s attention has been secured.
  • Use graphic organisers to support thinking and planning.
  • Avoid idioms such as “don't hit the roof” as these can cause confusion.
  • Allow for processing time. Learners may require between 15–30 seconds to process an instruction and formulate a response. 
  • Ensure instructions are in the order they are to happen.
  • Provide support to enable learners to share their ideas such as options to draw, write, gesture, or sign.

Teach non-verbal communi­cation

Teach non-verbal communi­cation

Non-verbal cues can support students' understanding of what others might be thinking or feeling.
  • Help students learn to notice the facial expression and body posture during interactions. Highlight examples in stories, video clips, or use the emotions color wheel.
  • Role-play in small groups to help practice recognition of meaning conveyed in postures and vocal intonations.
  • Cue students to recognise common hand signs that are used in a classroom, such as recognising the palm facing forward to mean stop.
  • Provide opportunities for students to watch short clips of a television show with the sound off. Ask students what they think is happening by analysing the postures and the movements of the actors.
  • Play charades or pantomimes and have students guess the message. This helps to draw attention to meaning in body posturing.

Source: Do2Learn (opens in a new tab/window)

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Supporting language and communication skills”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action:

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