WHAT IS PROCEDURAL LANGUAGE?

Procedural language is a term coined by Speak Freely Therapy Services to describe the communication skill of giving and following directions or describing how to do something.

This is an area that we work on with many clients, adjusting the level of difficulty depending on the client`s abilities and needs.

 

WHY IS WORKING ON PROCEDURAL LANGUAGE IMPORTANT?

When we consider the various reasons that we communicate, the ability to tell someone how to do something or listen to instructions from someone else are key functions of language.

 

In addition, procedural language is related to development of all the following skills:

  • It illustrates a clear cause and effect that shows the power of communication (ie: I say “jump” and the adults respond!)
  • Requires engagement with someone else for the entire activity or task
  • Promotes use of clear and precise vocabulary, rather than generic terms (ex: “Put the token on the green square.”versus “Put it on there.”)
  • Encourages the development of perspective-taking, seeing how vague or incomplete instructions impacts the other person’s ability to follow through
  • Develops a repertoire of action words
  • Leads to more complex skills such as narrative abilities (telling about events) and executive functions (planning, organizing, self-monitoring)

 

HOW ARE PROCEDURAL LANGUAGE GOALS ADAPTED FOR VARIOUS LEVELS OF LANGUAGE ABILITY?

Here is a general overview of the progression that we utilize for Procedural Language, starting with early communicators and progressing to more advanced communicators:

  1. Attend and provide gesture or sound/word (ex: “uh” or “shake” paired with a gesture to represent “shake the bag”)
  2. Provide word paired with gesture (ex: “shake” + action of hands shaking)
  3. Provide a phrase using verb + object (ex: “shake bag”)
  4. Use a full sentence (ex: “Shake the bag” or “Shake the bag please”)
  5. Use a full sentence with extra descriptors (ex: “Shake the zoo animal bag please.”)
  6. Outline all steps at the beginning of an activity, rather than step-by-step (ex: “Shake the bag, then take out an animal, then match it to the picture.”)
  7. Tell the steps of activities not currently occurring, using pictures as a guide (ex: explaining how to make a sandwich, with pictures of each step present)
  8. Tell the steps of activities not currently occurring, with no cues or props to assist (ex: explaining how to make a sandwich).

If you would like more information about Procedural Language or how strategies in this area could assist you, please contact us at the office.