Language serves may different purposes. We can use language to greet our friends and family, to inform others about things, to ask or request for something, or to make a demand. It is critical that we are able to adapt our conversations to the purpose of the conversation and to meet the needs of the listen/conversational partner. For example, you will speak differently to your sister than you do to your teacher, and you will speak louder at recess or lunch than during class time. You will also respond to your listener’s facial expressions and comments and if they show disinterest or confusion, you will follow up to make sure that they are listening and/or understanding what you are saying. Additionally, there are unspoken rules of conversation that need to be followed. For example, we engage in eye contact, turn-taking, use appropriate volume, do not interrupt, and we respond to our conversational partner’s facial expressions, comments and/or questions. Sometimes, these unspoken rules are not so easy for all students and the rules have to be explained. During this topic, students will work on identifying/understanding situations where conversation needs to be adapted to meet the needs of the listener. This topic is suggested to be targeted for two weeks. Below, you will find is a suggested sequence to follow.
Students and clinician will view a peer-mentored video titled, “Interrupted Soccer Game Conversation.” After viewing this video, the clinician and student engage in discussion with questions. Questions may include, “What went right? What went wrong? What can you say to a friend if they interrupt you? What could have been done instead? Let’s role play this scenario correctly.”
Next, students will be visually bombarded with facial expressions such as confused, interested, and active listening. It is important we are able to read other’s faces in order to understand when someone is following along with our conversation or if someone needs clarification. If a person appears confused, we can ask, “Does that make sense?” or offer further explanation. If a person appears to be listening and interested, the speaker knows that the listener cares about what he/she is saying.
Now it is time to practice facial expressions. Using a camera, smartphone, and/or mirror, have students practice how they would express confusion, interest, and active listening. Take selfies with the student and show how you would change your facial expression to indicate confusion, interest, and listening. Focus on eyebrow movement and mouth movement.
Clinician and students may also choose to practice back channeling. Back channeling is non-verbal and verbal feedback which a listener gives to a speaker to show that they are following along and understanding what the speaker is trying to communicate. Back channeling may include head nods, facial expressions, and phrases such as, “Okay,” “Yes,” “That makes sense,” “Wow,” “Uh-huh,” and “Wow.”
Clinician and students will view two practice videos titled, “Halloween Plans,” and “Video Game.” After viewing this practice video, the clinician and student will engage in discussion with questions. Questions may include, “What went right? What went wrong? What could have been done instead? Let’s role play this scenario correctly.”
Note: It can be very helpful to video tape students when role playing and then have students watch and rate themselves. (Remember to obtain written parental consent before incorporating photos/videos).