Saturday, January 5, 2013

Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Conversation {review}

Rarely do I find a homeschool product that it just exactly what I need, and I'm happy to share a special treasure I've been using with Lauren.

Last summer Lauren had a final speech therapy evaluation before we left Arkansas. Her therapist found that she no longer qualified for speech therapy services; both her articulation and her language skills were both in an age-appropriate range. There were a few areas that were still a concern, especially in terms of word structure. For instance, Lauren struggled with test questions that asked her to fill in the blank for a sentence like, "This is a pretty leaf. I jumped in a pile of _____." I don't notice frequent errors, but I was still concerned enough to look into materials that would directly teach the language skills that I assumed she would pick up on her own.

Deborah Lott is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mother of four who developed Super Star Speech materials to help parents work with their child at home. I was interested in her new Language Lessons from Listening Skills to Conversation book.

Like I already said, it was perfect for us. Many of the activities in the book are ideas that I knew about doing with Lauren. The problem is that there is a huge gap between knowing what to do and figuring out how to do it. Language Lessons meant that all the good ideas I had were translated into a form that I could actually do. For instance, I knew that we should work on auditory memory skills. It was much easier when I had a page in the book that gave me strings of numbers to ask Lauren to repeat. It was far easier to work on opposites or forming plural nouns when the exercise is written out for me and I didn't have to dream up examples on my own.

I started using this ebook by putting it on my nook so that it would be handy for the time we often spend in waiting rooms. Unfortunately, Lauren associates waiting room time with iPod games and not language activities with mom. I had much more success when I printed out the ebook and put it in a binder for use during our school days. We are working through the materials in somewhat of a random order, and I'm writing notes on the pages as Lauren completes them. I'm finding that Lauren picks up on new words/concepts fairly easily when we're focused on them. It seems like she needs direct instruction instead of just relying on her to notice language patterns on her own.

The Language Lessons ebook is packed with activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and school age children. The real focus on the instruction is for school aged children. I was very impressed with skills that would be necessary for reading, in particular the phonemic awareness section. The exercises include questions such as, "Do these two words sound the same? Which words in this list begin with the /g/ sound? Think of a word that begins with the same sound as the word I read." The skills progress in difficulty and cover some rather advanced grammar concepts. Although the child is not required to learn formal grammar terms, there are plenty of opportunities to use the correct predicate pronoun, to combine sentences, form a possessive adjective, choose the correct form of a verb to fit into a sentence, and more. It covers all of the language skills I was hoping to find and perhaps more that I hadn't realized.

I would highly recommend the Language Lessons ebook to any parent with concerns about their child's language skills. I greatly appreciate the time that Lauren spent working with professional speech therapists in the past, and I'm thrilled that I found a resource that enables me to continue building her language skills at home.

According to the Super Star Speech website, "Language Lessons will not enable you to do actual 'language therapy' with your child, as that is something that only a qualified speech language pathologist can provide. However, it includes over 140 pages of ideas and activities to use with your child that will help to improve his or her listening skills, memory, vocabulary, grammatical skills, and conversation."

Language Lessons from Listening Skills to Conversation is available as a pdf from CurrClick for $12.95 or in Kindle format for $9.95. You can find information on Deborah Lott's other Speech materials at Super Star Speech.

Disclaimer: I received a pdf copy of Language Lessons from Listening Skills to Conversation so that I could share this review, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of how it worked for me and my homeschool family.

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