Some researchers think that up to 15% of young school kids don’t have the language comprehension skills to cope fully with the demands of school (Hart & Fielding-Barnsley, 2009). Many of these kids struggle – some for their whole lives. For most kids, school and home life plays a big role in helping to understand and use language (Morgan & Goldstein, 2004; Nation, 2005). So what can we do to improve students’ understanding of language?
Well, it helps to have a plan. And good plans are based on tried and tested frameworks. For language comprehension, one of the most influential frameworks was developed by Dr Marion Blank, a developmental psychologist. Dr Blank proposed four levels of abstraction, from least to most abstract:
- Level 1: Directly supplied information (Matching perception)
- Level 2: Classification.
- Level 3: Reorganisation.
- Level 4: Abstraction and Inferences.
Most (although not all) kids start school with an ability to complete Level 1 and 2 tasks. But from there, it gets rocky: about 50%-65% of 5 year-old kids from well off households with educated parents can answer Level 3 questions – but only about 10% from disadvantaged backgrounds, including kids with average intelligence. Many children with autism spectrum disorder or social language disorders have significant difficulties answering Level 3 and 4 questions.
In our last bundled, no-prep pack, we targeted Blank’s Level 3 language comprehension tasks, requiring the reorganisation of information provided. In this pack, we target Blank’s Level 4 language comprehension tasks, which requires the student to draw inferences and to make abstractions based on their existing background knowledge. Specifically, this bundle includes:
- What will happen if…?
- What is it made of? Why?
- Why will…?
- Which one wouldn’t you use to…?
- What could you do when…?
- Why can’t…?
- How do we know…?
- Why did it happen?
We have used these resources in our busy speech pathology clinic to support students with a range of different needs, including students with language and learning disorders, as well as students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These resources are also appropriate for students of all ages who are learning English as an additional language.
Our Blank’s Level 3 language comprehension bundle is available here.