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Talk and Play, Everyday!: Grammatical Morphemes

April 7th, 2008 by | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

From time to time, I’d like to post some of my lesson plans for listening and spoken language activities.  For those of you with D/HH children, I’d love for you to try them out and give me your feedback on how they work.  For those of you who are new to AVT/Oral Deaf Education, I hope that these activities will help to give you a better understanding of what this approach is all about! (NOTE: I am a student, not yet a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist/ Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist©.  These ideas are not a substitute for professional services.)

Morphemes are the smallest parts of language that carry meaning.  Some are “free”, like “cat” or “walk”… those aren’t too hard to learn.  It’s “bound” morphemes, those tiny qualifiers like “-ing” or “-s” that can be added on to free morphemes that cause all the trouble!  Bound morphemes are tricky, but they also play a BIG part in differentiating the meaning of language, so they’re important to understand.  How can we help children with hearing loss master grammatical morphemes?  A few suggestions:

  • Ling check, Ling check, Ling check!  Before you begin, make sure everyone’s “ears” are on.  Access to some grammatical morphemes, like the plural “-s” or possessive “-’s”, require high frequency hearing.  Just in general, frequent, daily Ling checks are a great way to spot check your child’s hearing.  (What’s a Ling check?  Click HERE)
  • Brown’s 14 Morphemes are the baseline of how linguists look at morpheme acquisition.  See page 2 of THIS document for the ages, stages, and examples.  See which morphemes your child has, and which are missing/inconsistent.  This will show you where to start.

Okay!  The ears are working, we know what we can do and where we’re headed… now — how can we make morphemes fun?

  • Acoustic Highlighting is the process of differentiating a target sound or morpheme from the rest of its linguistic context.  This may mean more emphasis, a different tone, or different volume — anything to draw the attention to a certain part of the word.  Once you decide which morpheme(s) to target, concentrate on highlighting them in your speech throughout the day.  Be a broken record!  It pays off!  (For more on acoustic highlighting, click HERE)
  • You Be the Judge!  For this, you’ll need you (the parent), the child, and a third participant who is willing to “play dumb.”  The parent and the third person are the “students” and the child is the “teacher.”  The teacher’s job is to judge whether or not his/her students are saying things correctly.  So, if you are making a cookies, Mom could say, “I am stirring,” and sister could say, “I am stir”… then you turn to the judge and ask, “Who said it right?”  The more dramatic, the better! 
  • When Did it Happen?  Many of the morphemes deal with changes in verb tense.  Experience books or old photo albums can be a great way to talk about things in past tense.  Future tense is a little more abstract and can be hard for any child to grasp.  What about making a list of what you look forward to doing on vacation?  Make a plan for what you will do tomorrow?  Write out what you will buy at the grocery store this afternoon, etc.
  • Plurals: There is a big difference between one cookie and two cookies.  Trust me.  They’ll learn this one quickly.

Happy Hearing!

Written by

Elizabeth Rosenzweig MS CCC-SLP LSLS Cert. AVT is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. She provides auditory verbal therapy, aural rehabilitation, IEP advocacy, consultation, and LSLS mentoring for clients around the world via teletherapy. You can learn more about Elizabeth's services on her Website or Facebook.


April 8, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Our speech therapist yesterday had no idea what the Ling test was. (Burying my head in hands now.)

We do it every morning and recently our 15 month old has started imitating us. If she hears me start “AH EE OOO” she will take out her other aid and hand it to me. Meanwhile she sits there just saying AH EE OO over and over. It’s adorable!


April 8, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Good for you, Monica! Your daughter sounds too cute! I just checked out your blog, too. Great advocacy work!


April 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Thank you for more ideas.

Another mum

April 8, 2008 at 7:49 pm

oh this is taking me back – you forget about this stuff with Master 15, til you re-read stuff like this : – )

We used to have a series of flash cards we would make at home, with photocopied pictures and cardboard. There would be a series of pictures representing; “he will eat his dinner, he is eating his dinner, he ate his dinner”. We would go through them helping him to understand which one was which and then we would ask “show me he is eating his dinner” so it became an audition exercise as well. When we knew he had the concept worked out, it was his turn to ask me and then of course I would make silly mistakes, much to his delight so he could tell me I was wrong and tell me which one it should be.

That actually reminds me of a funny story, my son was in his first year of school age 5ish. They had those sight words they use where they have to put them in the sentence and draw a picture etc. The sentence was “They will come later”. So my son drew a beach scene and the teacher asked what he had drawn. Answer “a birthday party”….hmmm teacher thinks to herself and asks him “a birthday party right? So where are all the people?”

Yup quick as a flash came the response “they will come later”

Teacher said to me afterwards she knew she was in trouble with this one, when he was running rings around at age 5 : – )