Figurative Language is Tricky! Help Your Students Learn to “Figure” it Out!

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The English language is filled with figurative language. Many have been used for so long and are so common that people often don’t even consider them to be abstract! If you work with students who struggle understanding abstract and figurative language or who have poor executive functions, they likely miss a lot of meaning during conversation and when reading.

I found that with my clients, they often understood and had been taught basic figurative expressions such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but struggled with the more commonly used phrases and slang. You might be surprised if you ask your students to define some of these common phrases. When a student is having a bad day, tell them to “hang in there” and then ask them if they can explain what that means.

I recently spent a few weeks compiling a list of the most commonly used expressions that aren’t obviously figurative. I used those 90 phrases and made a basic card game to be used with any game or activity. I also incorporated executive function skills and use of context clues in the instruction to help students learn to use self-talk, or their inner voice and to consider the context to help them figure out the meaning.

You can find it here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Figurative-Language-Use-Self-Talk-and-Context-to-Figure-it-Out-3379550

In my search for the most commonly used phrases, I discovered a useful site called idioms4you.com. Although, use with caution, because it does contain many pop up ads, some which are inappropriate for children.  I like it because it offers an audio definition of the phrase and quizzes. Here is the link:

http://www.idioms4you.com/new/new.php

I hope you and your students will “get a kick out of it”!

The Creative SLP

 

What You Say Isn’t Always What You Mean

I love using witty commercials to get a conversation going with my clients about the importance of social skills and these two Citibank commercials are perfect!

I love Citibank’s tagline: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said what they meant? 

For people who struggle with social skills, life would be easier if everyone said what they meant.

This is especially true when dating. People want to avoid awkward moments, so they mask their true intentions with niceties. Most people want to avoid hurting others’ feelings so they tell “white lies”.

Some cultures use more direct language but here in America, our language is filled with indirect and implied language in order to reduce awkward situations and appear more polite and agreeable.  So, it’s important to think about others’ thinking to figure out people’s true intentions.

After you show these commercials, use examples like this to keep the conversation going about the need to think about others’ thinking:

This is a conversation that happens on a regular basis in my home. My husband gets a lot of practice thinking about my thinking just to figure out what’s for dinner! The implied language is in parentheses.

Husband: What should we eat for dinner?  

Me: I doesn’t matter. (It does matter)

Husband: We could make hamburgers.

Me: We could… or we could make tacos. (I don’t want hamburgers)

Husband: What about steak?

Me: We already have the ‘fixins for tacos. (I don’t want steak either)

Husband: Ok… Tacos it is.

Me: Perfect! That was easy.

Husband: It SURE was. (It was NOT easy. Why didn’t you just say you wanted tacos in the first place?)

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Use this visual to help your students or clients think about the thinking of others. Help them learn to pick up on clues from context, tone of voice, and body language to help them figure out what people REALLY mean. Then, ask them to come up with their own examples of how people don’t always say what they mean.

Get creative and have fun!

Michelle Garcia Winner  has a great book that contains many useful worksheets related to indirect and implied language. I couldn’t do my job without this book!

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You can purchase it here:   Social Thinking Thinksheets for Tweens and Teens

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers site for more social skills activities. You can find it here: The Creative SLP

It’s Time to Talk to Yourself!

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Students these days are very fortunate. When I was in school, I was never directly taught social skills, how to study, or even how to organize my work. Today, teachers and other education professionals have started to learn effective ways to help students become more independent thinkers and problem solvers.

The list of skills that executive functions are involved with is very long. It can be overwhelming to try to understand how to address and improve these skills. Most people understand that executive functions are related to organization, but the skills involved include so much more than just that. Executive functioning is everything! So check out the blog article I wrote for the awesome company I work for, Carolina Pediatric Therapy . I love how they are always looking for new ideas and ways to help educate the community. This is the first article I’ve written for them and there are many more to come. Enjoy!

5 QUESTIONS EVERY PARENT SHOULD ASK BEFORE SENDING THEIR CHILD BACK TO SCHOOL