Whole Language Approaches

Gillam describes how shifting to a whole language approach to intervention required him to look at his clinical practices differently (Gillam, 1995, p. 220)

  1. I stopped looking only for disabilities and started looking more closely for abilities.
  2. I became less interested in subskill testing and teaching and more interested in real communication.
  3. I stopped writing specific behavioral objectives and started writing broad learning goals.
  4. My language intervention became less of a direct instruction process and more of an opportunity for discovery.
  5. I trusted that children with special language and learning needs could become learners…
  6. I trusted myself to put students ahead of lesson plans and mastery criteria.
  7. I believed I could make a difference by mediating between context, meaning, and form as they operated freely in a variety of communication systems (reading, writing, art, drama, etc.).

Whole Language Web Sites





Gillam, R. (1995). Whole language principles at work in language intervention. In D. F. Tibbits (Ed.), Language intervention beyond the primary grades (pp. 219-255). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Gillam, R., McFadden, T., & van Kleek, A. (1995). Improving narrative abilities: Whole language and language skills approaches. In M. Fey & J. Windsor & S. Warren (Eds.), Language intervention: Preschool through the elementary years (Vol. 5). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Goodman, K. S., Goodman, Y. M., & Hood, W. J. (1989). The whole language evaluation book. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books, Inc.

Norris, J. & Damico, J. (1990). Whole language in theory and practice: Implications for language intervention. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 21, 212-220.

Norris, J. (1993). Some questions and answers about whole language. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1(4), 11-14.

Norris, J., & Hoffman, P. (1993). Whole language intervention for school age children. San Diego: CA: Singular Publishing Group.

Westby, C., & Costlow, L. (1991). Implementing a whole language program in a special education class. Topics in Language Disorders, 11(3), 69-84.