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Suffolk Center for Speech


Ten Principles of Grammar Facilitation for Children with Specific Language Impairments


  • This article focuses on grammatical morphology (i.e. omission of copulas, auxiliaries, articles, regular tense inflections) because it is heavily researched in the field and is a consistent deficit in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI).
  • SLI is a language disorder that delays the mastery of language skills in children who have no hearing loss or other developmental delays.
  • Because of its pervasiveness, SLPs are often asked to develop intervention plans targeting grammatical morphology however, they have difficulty developing intervention plans that consider other areas of weakness the child has or potential areas of weakness the child may develop.
  • Ten principles were developed to facilitate “state of the art” grammatical interventions.


  1. The basic goal of all grammatical interventions should be to help the child achieve greater facility in the comprehension and use of syntax and morphology in the service of conversation, narration, exposition, and other textual genres in both written and oral modalities.
  2. Grammatical form should rarely, if ever, be the only aspect of language and communication that is targeted in a language intervention program.
  3. Select intermediate goals in an effort to stimulate the child’s language acquisition processes rather than to teach specific language forms.
  4. The specific goals of grammatical intervention must be based on the child’s “functional readiness” and need for the targeted forms.
  5. Manipulate the social, physical, and linguistic context to create more frequent opportunities for grammatical targets.
  6. Exploit different textual genres and the written modality to develop appropriate contexts for specific intervention targets.
  7. Manipulate the discourse so that targeted features are rendered more salient in pragmatically felicitous contexts.
  8. Systematically contrast forms used by the child with more mature forms from the adult grammar, using sentence recasts.
  9. Avoid telegraphic speech, always presenting grammatical models in well-formed phrases and sentences.
  10. Use elicited imitation to make target forms more salient and to give the child practice with phonological patterns that are difficult to access or produce.


  • The purpose of these ten principles is to assist in the of development of interventions that foster grammatical development.
  • These intervention methods should be broad enough to note improvement in the child’s overall communicative, behavioral, social and academic performance.
  • While these principles are meant to guide intervention, the SLP should still consider each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses when administering therapy.

Ashley E. M.A., CF-SLP

Fey, M. E., Long, S. H., & Finestack, L. H. (2003). Ten principles of grammar facilitation for children with specific language impairments. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(1), 3-15.

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