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Concept/Vocabulary Development and Reinforcement Strategies

This section provides a list of concept development strategies and strategies to reinforce the use of concepts, English structures and vocabulary.

Instructional Language Units: Introduction

The language units included in this website are intended for children who are developing English language skills or who need reinforcement on a specific English language component. Children must have a basic foundation in the English language before they can learn to read English. One of the major challenges encountered by children who are deaf is that they are faced with reading English before they know the English language. Because some children do not acquire language implicitly from social interactions in their environment, special attention and instruction should be given to enable them to experience and learn English explicitly.

Children who are hard of hearing (HH) or English Language Learners (ELL) may have a foundation in English but frequently have gaps or misunderstandings of some language structures. Most HH/ ELL students also benefit from some explicit language instruction to “fill in the gaps” and to clarify misconceptions. For young deaf and hard of hearing children, instruction should be provided through experiences linked with language, that is, the language used by the child (e.g., ASL, sign and speech, speech) as well as presenting English in print form as much as possible. When you are engaged in explicit instruction of English language development, using English-based signing and fingerspelling may make the English forms and structures clearer for the children (Marschark, 2007). If children know the significant language structures before they begin to read English language materials, they should be more successful in their reading.

Marschark, M. (2007). Raising and educating a DEAF CHILD: A comprehensive guide to the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by parents and educators (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University press.

General Guidelines and Framework for Developing Concepts and English

Language Structures

  1. General guidelines for developing concepts and English language structures
    • All students must be engaged in learning activities; it is especially important that elementary students be physically and mentally active participants.
    • For elementary students, use real objects, real-life situations, photographs, and experiences whenever possible.
    • All materials used to develop new concepts in vocabulary and syntax should represent language structures/vocabulary students already know.
    • Model speech, sign, and fingerspelling of structure or concept as often as possible during activities as well as frequently emphasizing the written word(s).
    • When developing concepts and language structures, use many common examples and non-examples.
    • Presentations should be fun/interesting and motivating.
  2. General framework for instruction
    • TELL and SHOW the students what they will learn and why
    • Teacher demonstration/modeling
      • Show students the language structure or concept and how to use the structure or concept.
    • Guided Practice
      • Provide many different activities/experiences in which children interact with the concept with teacher support.
      • Encourage students to gradually accept more responsibility for completing the tasks.
    • Independent Practice
      • Provide activities in which children identify examples of the structures/concepts and produce them, if appropriate.
    • Independent Application
      • Hold children responsible for using new structures and concepts when appropriate in all activities during the school day.