Building Literacy: Teaching Grammar to AAC Users
Autonomous communication and boundless expression are very much the primary goals of AAC. While we focus on developing communication skills, it is equally important that we lay the foundation for literacy. Since grammar is fundamental to any language, AAC users can benefit from focussed instruction that helps them gain an understanding of key grammatical structures.
Why Teach Grammar?
Why should we focus on proper language usage for AAC users? Because it is important that we set a high bar for AAC users and for what we expect them to achieve. When we respect their competence, it drives us to work towards giving the necessary support systems that enable them to meet our expectations and even go on to exceed them :) Besides, language abilities have been found to play a instrumental role in literacy. So, AAC users must be supported adequately to learn grammar so as to facilitate their literacy acquisition.
Looking at Errors as Stepping Stones
Yes, we would like AAC users to learn the right way to form sentences and use words. But the emphasis should always be on communication, especially for emergent communicators. Our quest for grammatical accuracy cannot be at the cost of an AAC user’s communication skills development. To this end, it may be best if we acknowledge and respond to all their communication attempts during the early stages of their AAC journey without worrying about grammar. Every utterance regardless of any errors should be encouraged. These errors can be recast when they are ready for it and can serve as a stepping stone to grammar learning. Once the communicator puts together two or more words, we can gradually encourage them towards grammatically correct phrases and sentences.
Correcting Without Obstructing Communication
Recasting is one of the effective strategies used for grammar instruction. A communication partner recasts by repeating the communicator's utterances and correcting the language or adding more details. This corrective feedback is not overt and is designed to keep the conversation going. Model the correct usage verbally as you tap the words on the AAC system. Here are a few ways in which you can support grammar learning in emergent communicators:
Grammar Supports in Avaz AAC
Avaz supports several language forms and provides morphology options for verb, adjective and noun forms. You can turn on the Grammar setting to turn be able to use the various morphological word forms. You can turn on the setting for the picture mode and keyboard modes independently.
- Tap the Settings icon on the top bar.
- Scroll down and tap Grammar
- Tap the Grammar option to ON.
- Then tap the modes (picture / keyboard ) for which you want to use the Grammar options.
Turning the Grammar option to OFF will turn off the setting in both the modes.
The word forms displayed for each type of word in Avaz are:
Verbs (past, past participle, present, continuous, future tense)
e.g. EAT (ate, eaten, eats, eating, will eat)
Nouns (singular, plural, possessive),
e.g. BAG (bag, bag's, bags)
Adjectives (simple, comparative, superlative)
e.g. BIG (big, bigger, biggest)
e.g. YOU (you, yourself, your, yours)
Learn more about it here
Grammar Learning with Shared Reading
Shared reading can be a great way to teach grammar to AAC users. As you read text, draw the communicator's attention to the different word forms and sentence structures. We have put together a Grammar Learning Bundle with a story to teach plurals for emergent communicators.
How to Use the Bundle:
Read Language Builder Instructions PDF given below for details on how to use this bundle. Click on the below icons to download the individual PDFs
Download all the above resources as a Language Builder Bundle here
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