Language Facilitation Techniques

In addition to supporting a student's functional expressive communication, adults should also ensure that they are providing a language-rich environment by modeling language that is at the level of the student.

Language-rich does not mean bombarding students with lengthy and complex language as this can trigger problematic behavior and/or withdrawal/disengagement.

Adults should model language at the level of the student. For example, if a child is at a single word level, then adults might model 1-3-word phrases to support language learning.

Techniques to Facilitate Language Acquisition

Parallel/Self Talk

This technique is used to model basic vocabulary.

Parallel Talk

This refers to the adult narrating what the student is doing or feeling. For example, if the student is eating, the adult could say, "you are eating", "yogurt", "crackers", "eating crackers", etc.


The adult narrates what they are doing or feeling. For example, if the student is in the kitchen while the parent is cooking, they can narrate what is happening, such as, "stir", "bowl", "spoon", "scoop ice cream", "put in", etc. Adults can model language slightly above the student's level of understanding.

Focused Stimulation

This technique helps stimulate language development in developmentally young students.

Parents and educators work together to come up with a list of developmentally appropriate target words for the student; this would include a variety of word types/concepts (e.g., spill, soft, alike, is, caught, etc.)

These target words should be presented to the student at least 5-10 times a day within a meaningful routine (e.g., pretend play, mealtime, etc.)

Below is an example of targeting "is" as a copula and the preposition "on" through focused stimulation. Student and adult are playing with cars and the adult narrates the following sequence:

"Where is my car?"

"Oh, here it is."

"It is on the bridge."

"Here is your car."

"Where is it?"

"It is on the ramp."

"I am putting this car on the track."

"Here is another car."

"It is on the building."


In this technique, the adult expands on the student's message to model longer and more complex sentence structures.

For example, if the student says, "The ball stuck", the adult can model, "The ball is stuck." Or if the student says, "car right here" the adult might model "car is on/under the ramp".


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