Category Archives: Bilingualism

4 Reading Strategies that Facilitate Language Development

Are you looking for a simple, effective way to facilitate your child’s language development?  Reading to the rescue!

Did you know that reading to children allows for vocabulary and language growth?  Research shows that a child’s exposure to books has direct impact on his communication and academic skills.  Therefore, reading is an important activity for your daily routine.  Try these 4 simple strategies that can be incorporated into book reading to enhance and facilitate language development.

Read to your child with CARE


Comment on pictures and actions occurring in the story.  For example, you could say, “Look! Curious George is climbing the tree.”

Ask Questions

Ask questions about the story and its associated pictures. For instance, you could ask, “What is George doing?” Try to vary the types of wh- questions you ask (who, what, where, when, why).  Additionally, you can ask questions about events that haven’t occurred yet in the story to assist your child with making predictions.  For example, you could ask, “What do you think will happen to George at the end of the story?”


Respond to your child’s communication during the story.  If your child asks a question about the story, you can provide an answer.  If your child makes a comment or prediction, you can provide a response.


Expand on what your child says by adding more words to what s/he has said.  For example, if your child says “George banana,” you could expand by saying, “George is eating the banana.”

Here is a great video from Dr. Roseberry-McKibbin showing CARE in action.


Roseberry-McKibbin, C. (2014). Multicultural students with special language needs: Practical strategies for assessment and intervention (4th ed.). Oceanside, CA: Academic Communication Associates.

Let’s Go Bowling: Supporting Communication at the Bowling Alley

It might seem odd that I’m writing a post about bowling on a beautiful, sunny spring day when most people are thinking about spending time outside, but it’s always good to think of activities we can do when the weather isn’t so great (in fact this holiday weekend, the forecast in northern NJ is all rain!).  Bowling to the rescue!  There is actually a great nationwide program for children to enjoy bowling all summer long — for free — called Kids Bowl Free.  Although adults don’t have the option to bowl completely free, there are package options where parents, grandparents, caregivers, etc. can bowl with their children at a significantly reduced cost.

Now that you know about the Kids Bowl Free program, I’m sure you’re wondering what on Earth bowling has to do with supporting communication. Am I right?  It’s not the first activity that comes to mind when you think of supporting communication; however, bowling is a social activity and any social activity is a great opportunity to encourage communication.  The best thing about bowling is that it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, so any person, young or old, regardless of communication level or type of disability, can enjoy some time at the bowling alley and practice his/her skills.

At the bowling alley, we can support communication by:

  • Socializing with existing friends and making new ones
  • Practicing sharing and taking turns (e.g., It’s your turn.)
  • Talking about colors, shapes and sizes (e.g., red ball, round ball, big ball)
  • Learning about sequence (e.g., I go first, you go next, he goes last.)
  • Using exclamations (e.g., Strike! Good job!)
  • Talking about what’s happening (e.g., The pins fell down.  The ball rolled down the lane.)

That’s just a few ways you can work on communication skills at the bowling alley.  What indoor activities do you enjoy for practicing communication skills?


Introduction to Telepractice

Telepractice (AKA telemedicine, teletherapy, telehealth, telespeech, telerehabiliation, virtual speech therapy) is the delivery of health services via a telecommunications system. This service model is becoming increasingly more popular in the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology. Large factors that have driven the use of telepractice are reducing travel time for the client and/or professional and expanding the reach of services. Telepractice is becoming a more widely used and accepted method of providing speech-language pathology and audiology services. However, many families are skeptical that the services provided through a computer could be beneficial or equally as productive as those provided face-to-face. Despite family reservations, researchers (e.g., Gorgan-Johnson and colleagues) have found that children receiving virtual speech therapy do as well as those receiving services in person.

Benefits of Telepractice

  • Decreases the rate of cancelations or no shows
    • Sessions can still occur in bad weather or when the speech-language pathologist (SLP) or client are sick.
  • Allows underserved populations to receive evaluations and treatment
    • Individuals living in rural towns may struggle to find local in-person services for their needs. Furthermore, individuals from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds may struggle to find appropriate services in their area. By using telepractice, these clients are able to receive the services they deserve.
  • Increases family involvement in the sessions
    • Family members can have a more active involvement by assisting clients with the session activities.
  • Increases interest or attention with clients that are motivated by and/or more comfortable in front of computers
    • Clients may be more engaged during their sessions because they enjoy being on the computer. They may also feel more comfortable asking and answering questions and performing difficult tasks with the computer screen as a safety net.
  • Allows clients to connect with professionals who specialize in their disorder or disability and/or can provide services in their native language
    • Speech-language pathology is a broad field. Although all SLPs receive some degree of training in all aspects of speech, language, and swallowing disorders, most  specialize in certain areas over areas.  For example, some SLPs may specialize in working with children with autism while others may have extensive training in treating adults who have aphasia. In addition, the majority of SLPs are monolingual and/or do not have the training to provide appropriate services to a bilingual client.
  • Makes sharing information easier
    • Clients and SLPs can share their computer screens and upload files to enhance the therapy session.
  • Helps clients and families to remember and understand what occurred during the session
    • Virtual therapy sessions can be recorded (with permission) and used for later review. By recording the sessions, clients and family members can watch what occurred. Watching the recordings assists clients with practice and carryover of skills. Moreover, watching previously recorded sessions allows everyone to observe the progress that has occurred.

How can we help?

At Liberty Speech Associates LLC, we provide telepractice sessions for the following purposes: accent modification, counseling, speech-language evaluations and treatment, speech-language screenings, and collaboration with related professionals. For more information on our telepractice services, contact us today.


  1. Grogan-Johnson, S., Alvares, R., Rowan, L., & Creaghead, N. (2010). A pilot study comparing the effectiveness of speech language therapy provided by telemedicine with conventional on-site therapy. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 16(3), 134139.
  2. Grogan-Johnson, S., Gaebel, R., Taylor, J., Rowan, L. E., Alvares, R., & Schenk er, J. (2011). A pilot exploration of speech sound disorder intervention delivered by telehealth to school-age children. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 3(1), 3141.
  3. Grogan-Johnson, S., Schmidt, A. M., Schenker, J., Alvares, R., Rowan, L. E., & Taylor, J. (2013). A comparison of speech sound intervention delivered by telepractice and side-by-side service delivery models. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 34(4), 210220.

Cultural and Linguistic Differences: 10 Things I Learned in Costa Rica

I had the pleasure of traveling to Guanacaste, Costa Rica with my husband.  In addition to enjoying the warm weather (90+ degrees everyday!) while the northeast was battling Winter Storm “Stella,” I made it my job to learn as much as I could about the cultural and linguistic differences that set Costa Ricans apart from other Spanish-speakers, as well as how they were different from Americans born and raised in the U.S. As a bilingual speech-language pathologist working with many Spanish-speakers and living in a forever-changing world, I find other cultures and languages fascinating to study and embrace.

Here are 5 things I learned while in Costa Rica:

  1. Costa Ricans refer to themselves as “Ticos.”
  2. “Usted” (formal version of “you” in Spanish) is the commonly used singular second person subject pronoun rather than “tú” (informal version).
  3. “Sabanero” is the word for cowboy instead of “caballero” or “vaquero” used by other Spanish speakers.
  4. “Mucho gusto” or “con gusto” (typically said to mean “nice to meet you” in some Spanish-speaking countries) are frequently used in response to “gracias” to mean “you’re welcome.”
  5. “Pura Vida,” literally translated to pure life, is the philosophy of Costa Rica and means different things depending on whom you ask (e.g., enjoying time with family, sharing culture and food with others, watching the sunset). They use this phrase in many scenarios to signify happiness or goodness, such as in place of “namaste” at the end of a yoga practice or instead of “bien” when asked how are you.
  6. Patua is an informal English spoken in parts of the country.
  7. Costa Rica consists of many immigrants, especially from Colombia and Mexico.
  8. While Spanish is the native language of Costa Rica, English is the first foreign language taught in school. French and Mandarin are also taught in some schools.
  9. Cyprus trees are the traditional Christmas tree in Costa Rica. However, artificial trees are becoming more common due to stores like Walmart opening in the area.
  10. Rice and black beans are a traditional part of a Costa Rican breakfast.


*Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog post is based on a one-week trip to Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  It should be not be assumed that all cultural and linguistic differences described in this post relate to all Costa Ricans as several factors, such as socioeconomic status and region, may contribute to culture and language.

Bilingualism: Separating Myths from Truths

About two years ago, I wrote an article entitled To Be Bilingual: That is the Answer, Not the Question for in the NJ Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s publication VOICES. This article aimed to debunk myths about bilingualism that are spreading like wildfire around the U.S. The article was primarily seen by speech-language pathologists and audiologists in NJ, but the unfortunate truth is that it’s not just NJ speech-language pathologists and audiologists that are spreading these myths; it’s doctors, physical therapists, teachers, social workers, families…The list goes on and on.


At least once per day bilingual families tell me that they’ve been told by another professional to use only English in their households due to the dangers of bilingualism. Who knew bilingualism could be so dangerous? It’s truly crazy when you think about it. I spend hours each day listening to ludicrous, unfounded myths about bilingualism. So I’m going to take the time now to provide the research-based truths. It’s my hope that by sharing the information in this blog, rather than in an article like I did the first time around, it’ll reach more people nationwide and across the world.



The dreaded myths:

Bilingualism confuses children.

Bilingualism causes delayed speech and language development.

Code-switching is indicative of a delay or problem.

Children with delayed speech and language skills should only learn English.

Individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g. autism, down syndrome) cannot become bilingual.


These myths couldn’t be further from the truth and yet they continue to be spread around. Why they continue to be spread is beyond me. I don’t know if it’s a lack of awareness and knowledge or what, but it bears repeating (a million times over) that these myths are NOT in any way true.



The research-based truths:

Bilingualism DOES NOT lead to delays or confusion.

Code-switching is a normal part of development in bilinguals.

Parents and family members should speak their native language at home with their children.

All children, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, can become bilingual.



Bird, E. K., Cleave, P., Trudeau, N., Thordardottir, E., Sutton, A., & Thorpe, A. (2005).      The language abilities of bilingual children with down syndrome. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14, 187-199.

Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M. B. (2004). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Kremer-Sadlik, T. (2005). To be or not to be bilingual: Autistic children from multilingual families. Paper presented at the 2003 at the ISB4: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism. Retrieved October 20, 2011, from

Macnamara, J. (1966). Bilingualism and primary education. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.