Effective Classroom Strategies for the Student with Language Difficulty

Effective classroom strategies really grew from a combination of sources. The tips outlined are a compilation of ideas from experienced teachers, text-books and from my own background and understanding.

For experienced teachers this page may be just a revision, for new grads (teachers and speech pathologists) you should find something useful here.

Child with Language Impairment Sits at the Front

This is an old favourite and is listed on 'classroom strategies' info sheets that speech pathologists hand out to teachers.

And it does make sense in that if you follow this advice then the the child with language impairment won't be at the back of the room dozing as you present verbal instructions to the class.

Also it will allow you to better monitor if the child with language impairment has understood your instructions.

My only concern with this advice is that if a child's vocabulary is low then he/she may not understand what your instructions are anyway.

It won't matter if the child is seated at the front, the back, or sitting in the middle rows. If he/she has difficulty recognizing the sequence of words your message may well be lost. Their position in the room will be of little consequence.

Separate the child with Language Impairment from Potentially Disruptive Children

I remember when I was in primary school I used to skulk at the rear of the class playing tic tac toe with a kid named Trevor. Trevor was a disruptive influence on me because his topics of conversation were invariably more interesting than anything my 4th grade teacher had to say.

The point is, children with language impaired don't do very well if they have to deal with the distraction of the entertaining child.

If a child is being distracted and enthralled by his entertaining friend he won't be listening to you. It may be best to separate them for awhile.

Allow Extra Time to Complete Work

It's a good idea to allow the child with language processing difficulties extra time to complete a set work assignment. Often, because of distractions or slow hand writing or problems in decoding text, children with language difficulties tend to struggle to get set work finished.

Don't fuss too much if the child can't finish their work in a timely manner.

Diary or Whiteboard Routine

Strict routines, that students can follow, can be effective classroom strategies, especially if students have a history of poor organizational skills.

Children with language difficulty tend to be the ones who 'forget' to do, homework or fail to take homework home, or lose their jumper or their hat, etc...

A diary is a useful way to ensure that the child with language impairment is on the same page as you. The clear information that a visual sequence of events - as found in a diary - can make is worth the little extra work needed to complete one.

A visual reminder of the day's events can make a big difference to a child's daily organization.


Kaderavek, J.N. (2011) Language Disorders in Children: Fundamental Concepts of Assessment and Intervention, Allyn & Bacon

Paul, R. (2001) 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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