Narrative Instruction For SLP's

The article I just read was outstanding for many reasons. If you haven't read it already, please do. It is lengthy but worth it! Classroom-Based Narrative and Vocabulary Instruction: Results of an Early-Stage, Nonrandomized Comparison Study


What I Know About Narrative Instruction & Vocabulary Instruction: 


  1. Narrative and vocabulary instruction is large part of most school SLP's daily practice. Most of my therapy revolves around these two areas when working with my language impaired students.
  2. Teaching story grammar helps to improve both receptive and expressive communication as well as story comprehension. The predictability of story grammar reduces the language load when children learn new information as well.
  3. Some children can learn story elements and vocabulary without direct instruction; however, most children with language disorders/delays or who are at risk need direct instruction. However, there is limited EBP. 
  4. Many language impaired students have difficulty learning vocabulary and therefore, have difficulty relating concepts together, recalling words, and expressing ideas.
  5. There are a lot of speech/language materials out there for these areas but I have no idea if they are evidence based. Also, they lack structure, especially when it comes to RTI. 
  6. Pulling from the curriculum as much as possible helps with carry-over of progress and targets the common core standards!

What I Learned:


First of all, the background information in this article is a great review of the importance of narrative and vocabulary instruction and what we already know. I suggest that everyone read it just for a quick refresher!!

I didn't learn anything groundbreaking in this article but I'm pleased that there is some preliminary research now on common practices that we all already do. My main take away messages are:  

  • Teaching narrative structure to whole class benefits both low and high risk students. 
  • Narrative instruction should include teaching all story grammar elements, causal relationships and motivation. I don't always target feelings, motivation, and reasoning of characters with my kindergarten and first grade students. However, after reading this article, I see that I can and should!
  • Vocabulary instruction may need to be more direct. The SLP's in this article just threw in vocabulary pre-teaching, direct instruction while reading, and review while targeting narrative instruction at the same time. With the lack of time and perfect groupings, I do this also. However, gains in vocabulary weren't seen. Therefore, a more direct focus on vocabulary is needed. Maybe...every other week with the same story....just thinking!
  • The protocols in this article can be modified for IEP and tier 2 or 3 groups. This makes me happy!! 

Clinical Ideas:


This article inspired me! 

  1. I usually pull stories from the curriculum to use with my students and I try to "keep up" with the classroom and read a new story per week to target narrative and vocabulary instruction. However, after reading this article, this pace may not be best for my students. Instead, I intend to use the stories as tools to teach each story grammar structure, character feelings and motivation, etc... 
  2. More direct vocabulary instruction is needed and re-reading stories will help to decrease language load as these other areas are targeted.
  3. Visuals, visuals, visuals!! I must remember to use visuals and I like the idea of using simple cue cards for different story grammar elements. My students can follow a pattern as they retell or create oral stories. So easy. 
  4. Teaching narrative comprehension using the curriculum outlined in this paper to the whole class is a great tier 1 or 2 activity that can be taught to teachers during in-services. This will help reach more students and help to prevent language delays, yeah!
  5. The three phases used in this research study: 
  • Teaching story grammar elements
  • Elaboration (introduce complex narratives)
  • Independent story telling

          These phases can be modified for IEP benchmarks!! I like the progression and now there is             some research that proves it is a good method. Yeah for some structure!!

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› Narrative & Vocabulary Instruction



Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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