Language Arts Activities. What role do they play in Shared Book Reading?

Successful language arts activities consist of specific techniques and procedures, some of which are listed below.

Language arts activities are based on, and incorporate, established teaching methods that have been shown to work very well in increasing understanding of text meaning.

Some of the most effective teaching methods are extensions, paraphrasing, generalization and summarization.


The clinician comments about a passage to expand on any aspect of written text found in the written passage.

The clinician's role is to model insights about the text and invite students to add their own interpretation. Extensions are critical to the success of language arts activities.

Students with language impairment will often read a text with the sole goal of 'getting the words right'(Yaden & Templeton, 1986).

When students focus all their mental resources on decoding words then often no energy is left over to fully understand the meaning of the text.

In this situation the authors message can be lost, or not understood, which often results in reading failure.

Extensions work by adding meaning to unfamiliar words and phrases (Norris, 1991). For example, in our target passage the clinician could focus on the word 'storm.' Clinician: 'The storm sounds terrible and very dangerous. What could happen to the boat?'


Paraphrasing is a useful tool that allows the clinician to reword sentences or paragraphs. The focus when paraphrasing is to reduce the complexity of a particular passage after it has been read.

Paraphrasing can be used to break down a complex sentence into short simple sentences.

By doing this you reduce the complexity of a passage yet retain its meaning, or increase understanding of its meaning.

For instance, if we look at our text example, 'The sun shone for a moment, but its warming rays were quickly engulfed by the angry and bruised sky.' We could reword that passage by paraphrasing to reduce some of the passages complexity.

Clinician: The sun shone through the clouds. It provided the people on the boat with brief warmth. It didn't last long though did it? The clouds engulfed the sun's rays again. Let's look in the dictionary and see what engulfed means.'


Generalization is a tool that links events from a story passage to events from a student's life.

Generalizations are used to increase a student's understanding of events described in a story. Using our example 'storm' we can link the event of the storm to a child's possible own experience of being caught in a storm.

Example: Clinician: 'Have you ever been caught in a storm? What does it feel like?' Student: 'It's cold and windy, and the thunder and lightning is scary.'


Summarization is an important piece of the language arts activities puzzle. It's critical that the clinician restate the ideas the student has learnt, before the session ends. The effect of this is to attend to the most important points of the passage.

For example, the clinician could summarize the target passage of the boat at sea in a storm by stating: 'The storm was huge with lots of lightning and big dark clouds. The waves were so big they made the boat seem as if it were only a matchstick.'

The clinician could then say: 'We can imagine what it would be like to be on that boat because we've both been caught in a storm. We also know that 'engulf' means to swallow something up, because we looked up "engulf" in the dictionary. So we can conclude that the people in that boat are in some trouble and their boat may sink.'


DeKemel, K.P. (2003) Intervention in Language Arts: A Practical Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Norris, J.A. (1991) From Frog to Prince: Using Written Language as a Context for Language Learning, Topics in Language Disorders. Vol 12, 66-81

Paul, R. (2006) Language Disoders form Infancy through Adolescence. Assessment and Intervention. Mosby

Wallach, G.P. (2008) Language Intervention for School-Age Students: Setting Goals for Academic Success. Mosby Elsevier

Content Updated 8/11

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