A reader wrote the following question, and Dr. German was kind enough to respond. I asked if I could share her comments with all of you…
Thank you for your post. I work in a private elementary school and I use your TOWF-2 to evaluate many of my students. I also have your book “It’s on the Tip of My Tongue. My biggest challenge with my students who have WFD is that most of them are not very aware of their difficulties. Therefore when I ask them what words they often get stuck on they don’t know of any. Most of my students don’t have specific words that are consistently hard for them. It’s different words every time. Therefore I can’t use many of the strategies you recommend. What do you recommend for students who don’t have consistent words that they get stuck on?
Dr. German writes:
Thank you so much for your question. I am pleased you use the Test of Word Finding, Second Edition (TWF-2).
For Word Finding (WF) intervention, I recommend that you select known vocabulary from the following 4 areas:
- words or names that the student self reports he/she is having difficulty retrieving;
- words or names parents or teachers report the learner is having difficulty retrieving;
3) names of classmates and teachers; and
4) academic words (common core vocabulary) that you as the SLP predict the student may have difficulty retrieving.
It appears you have been focusing on # 1 above. Your learner may not be able to yet reflect on his/her own language so as to be able to tell you when he/she experiences a WF block or makes a WF substitution. Thus I would focus on areas 2 -4 below. As you work on your students’ WF, they will become more aware of their Word Finding Difficulties (WFD) and the words that they find evasive, the ones that they cannot think of.
SLPs can predict what words in the curriculum that might be difficult for a learner to retrieve. It is these words that SLPs need to treat during the learner’s language lesson. Findings from research can guide SLPs. For example, research (German & Newman, 2004) has shown that certain lexical factors of words (length, phonological complexity, neighborhood density, and frequency of occurrence,) can make words easier or more difficult to retrieve than others. For example, it has been reported that learners with WFD often have difficulty retrieving:
- the multisyllabic words in their curriculum (longer words can be more difficult to retrieve, like Mississippi in language arts);
- the words that have low phonotactic probability (words with rare phonological sequences can be more difficult to retrieve, hypothesis in science);
- the words that have small word families (words that reside in sparse neighborhoods can be more difficult to retrieve, like Xerox in the office); and
- the rarer words (words with lower frequency of occurrence can be more difficulty to retrieve, like sphere in math).
Using this research as a guideline, SLP’s can identify those curriculum words that might be most challenging to a learner with WFD and apply retrieval strategies so as to head off WFD in the classroom.
I hope my response was helpful. Best, Diane G.
German, D. J., & Newman, R. S. (2004). The impact of lexical factors on children’s word finding errors. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47(3), 624-636.