An Interview with MaryLouise Blond and Rynette Kjesbo: Vocab-U-Sounds

Apr 2, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

  1. Mary Louise and Rynette, what exactly is this Vocab-U-Sounds program I keep hearing about? Tell us about it.

Vocab-U-Sounds is a workbook that combines articulation drills with language activities to address basic vocabulary, question comprehension, following directions, and more. This book is unique because it gives speech therapists work sheets to help children practice producing phonemes correctly while at the same time the students are participating in activities that incorporate the Common Core Standards for education. Each lesson in Vocab-U-Sounds is an interactive, creative, and enjoyable experience that allows students to expand their vocabulary while also helping them to improve their underlying semantic and cognitive skills, develop processing and memory skills, and improve grammatical understanding and expression.

  1. What grade levels and ages is this appropriate for?

Vocab-U-Sounds targets later-developing sounds: CH, J, L, L Blends, R (including Vocalic R), R Blends, S, S Blends, SH, TH (voiced and voiceless), Z, and ZH. While the content would be appropriate for any student who needs to work on producing any of these sounds, or for any student who needs to work on vocabulary or language development, the black-and-white illustrations would probably appeal most to students who are in Kindergarten through the 5th grade (ages 5 and up).

  1. Does this focus on verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions or just concrete nouns?

Vocab-u-Sounds covers a wide array of topics. The selected vocabulary words are mostly nouns, verbs, and adjectives, but we also included basic concepts (such as, “same/different” and “clean/dirty,”), grammar concepts (like “compound words,” “homophones,” and “adverbs”), and higher-level skills (such as “idioms” and “manners”). Each page introduces a new vocabulary word and gives the word’s definition as well as its underlying semantic and cognitive meaning. Therefore, while increasing the understanding and expression of vocabulary, Vocab-U-Sounds is concurrently developing language skills.

  1. Do you differentiate between expressive and receptive vocabulary and content?

Vocab-U-Sounds includes both receptive and expressive components in each lesson. After introducing a topic, the child will manipulate an activity that utilizes the concept learned in the lesson while additionally stimulating the target phoneme. After the activity the child answers a number of questions on the topic learned, giving additional target elicitation.

  1. Who can administer this program?

Because of the articulation component included in this book, this program was designed primarily for Speech-Language Pathologists to use in the therapy environment. However, other educators will find the language lessons beneficial to their students and parents can also use the pages for carry-over and practice with their students at home.

  1. Would this help English language learners?

Vocab-U-Sounds is an excellent way to increase the understanding and expression of vocabulary in students who are learning English, while concurrently stimulating articulation proficiency. The creative and clear visual support enhances learning.

  1. What have I neglected to ask?

Though we are excited by the idea of facilitating language and expanding vocabulary with this program, we wish to stress that this is an effective and groundbreaking book in the area of articulation therapy. Therapy instruction is outlined clearly in efficient stages from isolation through generalization. A unique component of Vocab-U-sounds is the way articulation therapy is presented. Since the end goal of articulation therapy is to have the child correctly produce the phoneme during conversation, it is essential to teach the sound in a way that develops the ability to produce the sound correctly while engaged in higher-level thinking. Rather than simply repeating words, the child manipulates material while eliciting multiple target opportunities. Elicitations are produced in a natural conversational environment.

  1. Is more information available on a web site and where is the web site?

Vocab-U-Sounds is available from Super Duper Publications. You can find out more about the book by visiting the following link on Super Duper’s site: http://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=BK378&stid . Be sure to check out the sample pages and watch the “Show Me How” video to get some ideas on how to use this book.

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