Indirect Language Stimulation, Incidental Teaching Methods and Sabotage Techniques

Indirect Language Stimulation: There are a number of patterns identified for parents to use to provide language models to children in the course of naturally occurring everyday activities. These patterns differ from direct teaching approaches in that the context is not a didactic one in which children are asked to say things in particular ways. Rather the focus is not on the communication, but on carrying out the discussion or activity. Here are some examples (see further discussion in (Duchan, 1995, p. 84)

Semantic contingency: The adult response is related to the child's meaning (Cross, 1978)

Expansion: The adult recasts the child's utterance into adult syntactic form (Cazden, 1965).

Expansion plus: Information is added to the child's comment (called expatiation by Cazden in Cazden, 1965)

Intent contingency: The content of what the adult says is related to what the adult takes to be the intent behind the child's utterance.

Contingent queries: A question or comment that indicates to the leaner that what was just said was confusing (Gallagher, 1977).

Backchanneling: The support person acknowledges what the child has just said and provides encouragement to continue (Kirchner, 1991).

Verbal scaffolding: The adult provides a model of what to say before the child has said it. (Kirchner, 1991):

Redirects: The adult encourages the child to ask someone else. Aim: to promote social initiations to peers by reticent children. (Schulele, Rice, Wilcox, 1995)

Breakdowns and buildups: The adult builds upon the child's utterance and then breaks it down, and builds it up again (Fey, 1986, p. 198)

Sabotage Techniques: The adult creates a problem or makes a mistake to block a goal of the child, thereby creating a context in which the child needs to communicate if he wants to overcome the difficulty and proceed with the activity.

Communicative temptation: Give child box that he cannot open to elicit a request (Wetherby & Prutting, 1984)

Contrived misunderstanding: Act confused or ask about something the child just said (Gallagher & Darnton, 1978; Weiner & Ostrowski, 1979)

Contrived confusion: Look puzzled (Duchan & Weitzner Lin, 1987)

Problems in the event sequence: Flat tire on the way to the grocery store, hole in a shopping bag, cashier drops a package (Constable, 1983; Culatta, 1994)

Making false assertions: Make inaccurate statements to encourage the child to correct them-Oh look the dog is jumping on the roof (have a person jump on the roof) (Fey, 1986, p. 175)


Cazden, C. (1965). Environmental assistance to the child's acquisition of grammar. Unpublished Dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Constable, C. (1983). Creating communicative context. In H. Winitz (Ed.), Treating language disorders: For clinicians by clinicians. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Culatta, B. (1994). Representation play and story enactments: Formats for language intervention. In J. Duchan & L. Hewitt & R. Sonnenmeier (Eds.), Pragmatics: From theory to practice (pp. 105-119). Englewood Cliffs: NJ: Prentice Hall.

Duchan, J. (1995). Supporting language learning in everyday life. San Diego, CA.: Singular Publishing Group.

Duchan, J., & Weitzner Lin, B. (1987). Nurturant-naturalistic language intervention for language impaired children: implications for planning lessons and tracking progress. ASHA, 29, 45-49.

Fey, M. (1986). Language intervention with young children. San Diego, CA: College Hill Press.

Gallagher, T. (1977). Revision behaviors in the speech of normal children developing language. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 20, 303-318.

Gallagher, T., & Darnton, N. (1978). Conversational aspects of the speech of language disordered children: Revision behaviors. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 21, 118-136.

Kirchner, D. (1991). Using verbal scaffolding to facilitate controversial paarticipation and language acquisition in children with pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Childhood Communication Disorders, 14, 81-96.

Weiner, F., & Ostrowski, A. (1979). Effects of listener uncertainty on articulatory inconsistency. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 44, 487-493.

Wetherby, A., & Prutting, C. (1984). Profiles of communicative and cognitive-social abilities in autistic children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 27, 364-377.