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“Indirect Correction”

February 28, 2018 by Angela Hansen

How to Use “Indirect Correction” to Improve Speech and Language Skills

Does your child become frustrated when you correct his or her speech?  If so, would you like to try a technique other than direct correction?  When corrected, some children become really frustrated and will say “Never mind” or “That’s what I said!”.  You can try what is called “Indirect Correction” to help your child and avoid some of the frustration!

With direct correction, you let your child know that what they have said is not clear or grammatically complete.  For example, with direct correction, if your child says “I like tars” you say, “No they are not ‘tars’ they are “cars”.  With direct correction, if your child says “Her is my friend”, you say “No, it is not ‘her’, it is ‘she’”.  Although direct correction provides instruction, it can make children feel like their message is not being listened to and they are being criticized when they attempt to communicate.

With indirect correction, you conversationally repeat back what your child has said, with correct use of grammar and pronunciation.  This way, your child is able to hear the correct way to say something, without interrupting the flow of conversation and causing frustration.   This article will now give examples of indirect correction for articulation and indirect correction for language.

With indirect correction of articulation, you can repeat back conversationally what your child has said but without the articulation errors.  For example, if your child says “The wabbit is wunning”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Yes, the rabbit is running”, placing emphasis on the “R” sound.  If your child says “I wanna rea the cah in the hah”, you can say “Great, I love to read the Cat in the Hat!”, with emphasis on the final consonants.  By doing this you are acknowledging your child’s statement, giving them a chance to let you know if you did not understand them, and you are modelling the correct pronunciation.

With indirect correction of language, you can repeat back conversationally what your child has said with correct grammar.  For example, if your child says “Her running”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Yes, she is running.”, with emphasis on the words “she” and “is”.  If your child says “I falled down”, you can repeat it back conversationally with “Uh-oh, you fell down.”, with emphasis on the word “fell”.  This acknowledges your child’s statement and what your child wants you to know without interrupting the flow of conversation, while helping your child hear correct grammar.

Although direct correction can be useful, especially during speech and language homework practice time, it can be overwhelming when used frequently during conversation.  If your child is becoming frustrated by direct correction during conversation, you might want to give indirect correction a try!

Cynthia Pollard MS, CCC-SLP


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