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Supporting students who struggle with language

McCartney, Elspeth and Ellis, Sue (2010) Supporting students who struggle with language. In: Motivating Children's Literacy in Today's World. New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington. ISBN 9781877398650

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Abstract

This chapter considers children who have speech, language and communication difficulties. These can arise from insufficient quality or quantity of language experience, or they may arise developmentally, despite appropriate language input from families and carers. They may or may not be associated with impairments such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy or autistic spectrum disorders. Whether children's difficulties are specific to language-learning or more general, it is important that they become motivated, engaged learners. Motivation is central, but not in itself enough to guarantee high engagement. Engaged readers are intrinsically (rather than extrinsically) motivated to read, and have the required resources and strategies to do so. Meta-analyses show that strategy teaching, curricular coherence, choice, social collaboration and purpose all impact upon reading engagement (Guthrie and Wigfield 2000). Motivation and engagement impact upon attainment through mechanisms such as practice effects and perseverance. Continued engagement is therefore particularly important for children with speech, language and communication difficulties. Where language is part of the problem, children are at significant risk of literacy difficulties persisting into adult life (Law et al. 2009).