by JoAnn Wiechmann, M.A., CCC-SLP; Judy Rudebusch, Ed. D., CCC-SLP; and Nancy Kuhles, M.S., CCC-SLP
Language Lab™ is a response to intervention (RTI) program for elementary school students (grades K-4) whose English language abilities fall below grade-level standards. Language Lab™ provides struggling students with 15-hours of focused, intensive, and systematic instruction. The goal of the program is to help students so that they do not need speech and language therapy services and can remain in regular classroom settings. The language skills taught in Language Lab™ are consistent with state educational standards and promote strong listening, speaking, and reading skills.
Language Lab™ provides Tier II or Tier III language intervention for groups of 2-4 students prior to making a special education referral, normally for 60 to 90 minutes per week. The RTI program consists of five (5) learning stations—Skill Drill Station, Listen and Learn Station, Talk Aloud Station, Story Station, and Homework Connections Station. Over a 30-minute session (2-3 days per week), students rotate through four stations. The first three stations teach specific grammar and vocabulary skills and the fourth station targets narrative skills.
Language Lab™ also includes a Homework Connections workbook that provides homework for all of the skills.
Language Lab™ targets verbs (regular and irregular tenses); adverbs; nouns (regular and irregular plurals; adjectives; and connected speech (clauses, conjunctions, negatives, direct and indirect objects). It also includes a story station with scripted lessons for teaching narrative skills at three levels: kindergarten, 1-2 grade, and 3-4 grade. Students learn to use basic story grammar components to retell a story, create a story, and to add “sparkle” and cohesiveness to the stories they create. During these scripted Story Station lessons, the SLP closely monitors the use of target language skills.
Language Lab™ was piloted in three culturally diverse school districts and over 81% of the students (n=26) either exited or were progressing at expected rates. The use of Language Lab™ aided in the early identification of students needing a referral for a possible language and/or learning disability.
Who are candidates for Language LAB™ intervention?
- K – 4th grade students
- English speakers
- Students not mastering grade-level standards in oral language
- Students not meeting expectations on universal screening in reading comprehension and not meeting expectations on the Language Lab™ Screener.
Who provides Language LAB™ intervention?
The SLP provides Language Lab™ intervention. SLP Licensed Assistants or paraprofessionals may assist with activities and management of Language Lab™ in accordance with their credentials and district policy. Language Lab™ takes place in the SLP’s room or another area of the school (with the Administrator’s approval) that will accommodate the number of students participating.
How does the school district obtain the materials needed to implement Language LAB™?
Schools may purchase Language Lab™ using general education funds, Title I funds, categorical budget funds, or up to 15% of federal special education (IDEA, Part B) funds for early intervening services. The Language Lab™ Kit includes all materials necessary for program implementation.
What are the benefits of Language LAB™?
Language Lab™ has proven effective as an RTI program for general education elementary school students demonstrating relative weaknesses in oral language skills in kindergarten through fourth grade. By providing structured oral language intervention through Language Lab™, the student receives the benefits of a (n):
- 15-hour evidence-based program of instruction utilizing drill and practice activities targeting syntax, semantics, and pragmatics skills with opportunities to practice target skills in connected language through narrative/storytelling activities.
- 15-hour, focused intervention program that builds a bridge from oral to literate language skills while supporting development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
- Engaging, interactive sequence of learning activities combining skill instruction and mass practice of target skills in connected language during every intervention session.
- Early identification of possible language learning disabilities given no response to intervention.