Enhancing language development in natural environments

Published on Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Language is the Key can help parents learn to imbed language learning opportunities into book time, play, and everyday activities.

Early intervention services have shifted from primarily direct professionally provided “treatment” to now include much more consultation and collaboration with families.  Early intervention providers prepare parents to confidently and effectively imbed identified intervention strategies in everyday routines. Research findings show that when more learning opportunities in natural settings are provided for the child, his or her development will be enhanced. 

Most infants and toddlers served in infant and early intervention programs have delayed language development. We know that infants and toddlers can make significant language gains when parents use simple language facilitation strategies during daily activities.  But what is the most efficient and effective way to show parents how to imbed language development strategies into family routines?

The strategies used in “Dialogic Reading” have been shown to be efficient and effective in promoting child language development.  These strategies can be used while looking at picture books and during everyday activities and play. Because they are easy-to-learn and use, parents are more likely to use the strategies on their own. And the strategies can be adapted to the child’s unique learning characteristics.

The Language is the Key program, teaches three simple dialogic reading strategies that are easy to remember and implement:

COMMENT and wait

ASK QUESTIONS and wait

RESPOND by adding a little bit more (language expansion)

 

C-A-R is an easy and concise acronym for adults to remember. The Language is the Key program also encourages parents to employ the overarching approach of “Follow the child’s lead” in order to build engagement and reciprocal conversation.

Parents can view the Language is the Key DVD program on their own, or with the early intervention provider. The two-20 minute video programs give simple instructions using engaging video examples of each strategy. A Language is the Key DVD can be left with the family so that other adults and child care providers can learn to use the CAR strategies. (Programs can make five additional copies of Language is the Key DVDs so they can feel comfortable leaving a DVD in the home. DVDs are convenient to return with a self-addressed mailer or can be picked up at the next visit.)

Below is an outline for home visits using Language is the Key for a child needing language support:

FIRST VISIT

1.       Parent and early intervention provider view Language is the Key video Talking and Books together. (20 minutes)

2.       Early intervention provider models the CAR strategies with the child and discusses with parent.

3.       Parent uses the CAR strategies with child with coaching from early intervention provider.

4.       DVD Talking and Books is left with parent to share with other adults involved in the child’s development.

SECOND VISIT (or when parent is confident with picture book strategies)

1.       Early intervention provider and parent practice and review the CAR strategies using picture books.

2.       Parent and early intervention provider view the Language is the Key video Talking and Play together. (20 minutes)

3.       Early intervention provider models the CAR strategies in play or everyday activity contexts with the child and discusses with parent.

4.       Parent uses the CAR strategies with child in play or everyday activity contexts with coaching from early intervention provider.

5.       DVD Talking and Play is left with parent to share with other adults involved in the child’s development.

Parents from different cultural and linguistic groups can benefit from the Language is the Key videos because they are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog. Other versions include Mandarin with subtitles for speakers of Cantonese and other Chinese dialects and English with subtitles for parents with hearing impairments.

Learn more about Language is the Key