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How To Learn Sign Language

Communication – Strategies That Work!


Communication strategies that work. Communication is the exchange of ideas
and information through language and nonverbal behaviour. In our communication module part one, we explored some of the reasons why
learners may have behavioural reactions when they experience language problems. In this module we highlight ten strategies that will enhance your
communication with all learners in the class including
those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Strategy number one; use clear language. We often concentrate too
much on making sure our speech is detailed and specific. Because of excess detail our message can get lost. Identify the basic message you want the
learner to understand and state it. As well drop all extra words. Think of your message as a
telegram where each word costs you one hundred
dollars. Embellishing our communication and using too many words leads to
frustration. For educators, give your lesson instructions to the whole class. Next repeat the instructions using only the
keywords. Strategy number two; use positive
phrasing. If we say don’t run the learner may only hear the word run. Instead say what to do, not what not to do by avoiding negatives like no, don’t and can’t. Make positive statements.
Instead of don’t run, try John, walk. After all it takes a long time to list all the things we don’t want a learner to
do but it takes very little time to express what we do want. Listen while
this parent relates an experience she had when her daughter was young. – Now I was a little bit past that stage already of telling her not to hit. I thought everything I
could think of; don’t kick don’t swear, don’t spit, don’t push,
don’t shove, don’t do anything like this and I thought I had all the bases covered. So I get the phone call the next day that maybe I should come pick her up early again. And what she had done, she didn’t hit,
she didn’t push she didn’t swear or anything else. She very politely, at lunch time, walked over to this
little girls desk, who she didn’t like, she took off her running shoe, knocked all the sand into the heel and then dumped the sand out of her shoe into the
other little girls lunch. So she hadn’t done all the things that she
was told, so I needed to learn, and we all needed to learn, to tell her specifically what to do and
that was hands by her own body, her bum in
her own seat, – If appropriate show the behaviour you
want the student to learn then have the student practice the
behaviour. Strategy number three; Avoid using idioms. Idioms are words or phrases that mean something
different than their expected definitions. Literal interpretation of words that are
said is very common for learners with
communication challenges. Instead of asking a learner to hop to it try saying, Mary work now. After all, do we really want to say to a
learner hold your tongue or hit the books. Strategy number four; be consistent. Repeat the same words. Sometimes when our learners to not appear to
understand us, we repeat our directions using different phrases. We hope that at least
one of our attempts will be understood. Instead choose a
simple direct phrase and repeat it. When speaking directly to
a specific learner use the name of the learner. Be
consistent and allow time for the learner to
process the information. If the learner continues to experience
difficulty try paraphrasing. Sometimes learners do need to hear the same idea or
direction using different words or sentence construction. Strategy number five; Use visuals. Many learners have
difficulty with oral instructions. Those same learners may increase their understanding if you
use visual supports, prompts, gestures, physical modeling or concrete examples. Visual supports
and prompts are ideal as, once they are learned and understood, they can be used independently. Examples include pictures of classroom rules, storyboards, class schedules or maps. Gestures and modeling prompts are useful for increasing understanding. Examples may include putting your hand
up to indicate stop, modelling a process or using the words “like this” and gesturing the desired
action. Concrete examples also useful for
increasing understanding. Examples include pictures or physical
samples of a desired outcome. Strategy number six; give directions one at a time. When working with learners who
experience difficulties with language less is more. Do not overwhelm them with multi-step or vague instructions. Tell the learner what you want them to
do at the time you want them to do it. Oral instructions can be given to the entire class and
then repeated one instruction at a time for those who need it. This frees up the learners attention to
concentrate on the assigned task. At the same time instructions can be written on the board
or visuals can be posted. An alternative is to use a checklist. This puts the learner in control of the activity giving both
the learner and the teacher more independence. It is important to know that using a
checklist is a learned skill. To teach how to
follow a checklist begin with two or three items and
gradually increase the number of items. One example is to write one instruction on the top
sheet of a sticky pad, the second instruction on the second
sheet of a sticky pad the third instruction on the third sheet
and so on. When the sheet are put back together the
student will see only one instruction at a time. Once the first activity has been
carried out the student will remove the top sheet and the next instruction will be
displayed. This prevents overwhelm. Strategy number seven; give directions in order. If we tell a learner that, before we play basketball we have to do
our math, the learner may hear, play basketball, do
math. In this case the first activity heard is assumed to be the first activity
they will do. Learners with communication delays may
not yet understand the meaning of time concepts
such as before, after, while and during. State your activities in the order that
they will happen using the word first can be useful to
build understanding of time and sequence of events. For example first math, then basketball. Strategy number eight; Ask concrete
questions. Consider how the question could be
answered if taken literally. For example, if you ask a student where do you live, you may be frustrated
by an answer like in a house. Instead the request of, tell me your address, will result in the
information you seek. Keep your question simple but make sure
you ask for exact information. Strategy number nine; Ask the learner to show understanding. Ask the learner to show you how a task is done. This way you will observe whether the
learner really understands the task. For example, learners may be able to recite their
locker combination but until you watch them open the lock
you can’t be sure that the process is understood. If learners can’t get started you can
help by beginning the task with them. By doing an activity with
learners or watching them do the first question or
two, you can be sure they understand. Strategy number ten; Allow more time. For an educator there can be many time related pressures
in a classroom The need to cover curriculum and impatience from other learners are two examples. However, all learners need an opportunity to
contribute. Allow time for learners to process what
you are saying to them. Then allow more time for them to process how they wish to reply. Many learners are able to answer questions in class if
we allow them time to process the information. Support learners by teaching them how to
recognize and use the extra time. Strategies like pair/share, preloading, using mind maps, brainstorming and giving advance warning of an
activity will promote inclusive classroom
discussions. In this module we have highlighted ten communication strategies. Use clear language. Use positive phrasing. Avoid using idioms. Be consistent. Use visuals. Give directions one at a time. Give directions in order. Ask concrete questions. Ask the learner to show understanding and Allow more time. These strategies will help all learners in the class
including those with FASD. It is important to remember that each learner is an individual with
varied strengths and needs. It is through building a relationship with
our learners and getting to know their strengths that we can discover which strategies
will allow us to communicate with them successfully.

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