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Targeting Language at Home

The use of models can aid in the treatment of many language deficits. This is the case for practicing, or targeting, utterance expansion as well as expressive labeling. Modeling is done by producing the target sound, word, phrase, behavior, etc., to your child for them to imitate. For example, in order to practice utterance expansion, models, such as “yellow car”, can be given for your child to combine nouns with adjectives and/or verbs, or to combine other parts of speech (adverbs, pronouns, and prepositions). When targeting utterance expansion, it is advised to model combinations of words your child knows rather than words that are new to their vocabulary. In order to model expressive labeling (using words to label objects, animals, body parts, food, etc.), provide the object to label as a visual cue while modeling the name of the object. For example, showing your child a pig and modeling “pig.”

Cues can be given to further assist your child in completing language tasks. Cues can be visual, verbal, gestural, and tactile. Visual cues may consist of objects, toys, pictures, and written word that provide information to your child. Verbal cues include any prompt provided using verbalizations or spoken words. Gestural cues may be any hand motion that provides information, such as, pointing. Finally, tactile cues are mainly utilized to provide information regarding tongue and lip placement.

It is important to continue practicing language goals outside of therapy, in the home, in order to assist progress made during therapy. Please refer to your child’s speech therapist regarding potential questions about models and cues best used for your child.


Courtright, J. A., & Courtright, I. C. (1976). Imitative modeling as a theoretical base for instructing language-disordered children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research19(4), 655-663.

Dowrick, P. W. (1999). A review of self modeling and related interventions. Applied and preventive psychology8(1), 23-39.

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