Behaviors That May Indicate Word Finding Difficulties
and anecdotal evidence suggest that certain behaviors in the classroom
may indicate that students are having word finding difficulties. This
section of the web site presents examples of these behaviors. Students
who display these behaviors in the classroom may benefit from deep assessment
and follow up intervention in word finding. Click
here to obtain procedures to obtain classroom based observations
of learners' word finding skills in the classroom.
that may suggest word finding difficulties are presented according to
the classrom and academic activities below.
- Word Finding Behaviors Displayed in Oral Questioning
- Word Finding Behaviors Displayed in Class Discussion, Cooperative
Groups, or in Conversations
- Word Finding Behaviors Displayed in Reading
- Word Finding Behaviors Displayed in Writing Activities.
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Finding Behaviors Displayed in Oral Questioning
Slow and Inaccurate
- The student
has a long delay and does not give a response or produces a substitution
similar in meaning or sound form to the answer. However, when the
student is given a choice of answers, he or she is able to select
the correct answer.
- The student
has a long delay, but when given the first sound or syllable of
the target word he or she is able to answer the question.
or hours later the student remembers the answer to the question.
and Inaccurate Retrievers
- The student
is quick to respond in class, but his or her first response is typically
incorrect. He or she may self correct. However, when given a choice
of answers, he or she is able to select the correct answer.
and Accurate Retrievers
1. The student is able to answer questions correctly if given extended
Displays Secondary Characteristics
- The student displays gestures that suggest he or she is searching
for the answer.
- The student verbalizes such comments as: "Oh, I know that answer,
but I can't think of it."
Finding Behaviors Displayed in Class Discussion, Cooperative Groups,
or in Conversations
- The student produces
many repetitions in his or her sentences.
- The student has many reformulations (revisions) in his or her discourse.
- The student produces target word substitutions in his or her speech.
These substitutions may be words that are similar in meaning to the
target word or they may be words that sound like the target word.
- The student has long delays in the middle of sentences as he or she
searches for a word.
- The student produces a lot of Time Fillers (um, er uh,) in the
middle of his or her sentences.
- The student describes the referent of the word that he or she is
unable to retrieve.
- In the middle of an explanation, a student may say " I just
can't think of the word." or "Wait! I will think of it."
- The student may be very brief in his or her narratives often not
willing to discuss topics in length.
Finding Behaviors Displayed in Reading
Silent Reading is Superior to Oral Reading
- Although the student fails
to produce the sounds of letters, he or she is able to point to the
letters that match the sounds the teacher says ("Show me ...").
- Although the student fails
to orally read a word, he or she is a able to find that same word
in the text when he or she hears the teacher say the word ("Point
to the word ...").
- Although the student is
not able to orally read a nonsense word or a real word, he or she
is able to select the words from written or oral choices.
- Although the student appears
to make many decoding errors in oral reading, he or she is able to
correctly answer multiple-choice comprehension questions when he or
she reads the same text silently.
Responsive to Phonemic Cueing
- Although the student fails to read a word orally, when given the
first sound or syllable of that word, the student is able to read
the word orally.
Produces Semantically or Phonemically Related Substitutions When
- During oral reading
the student produces words that are similar in meaning to the word
in the text (semantic substitutions, calculator for computer); shares
some of the same sounds as the word in the text (phonemic substitutions,
discover for discomfort); or is a phonemic approximation of the target
word (coefit for coefficient).
Finding Errors Displayed in Written Language
Students with word
finding difficulties may also have difficulties developing written language.
Their written narratives may be adequate in length but contain many
errors that suggest problems in retrieving words. Other students may
produce written narratives that are brief with sentence structure that
is not syntactically complex. These difficulties in written language
are highlighted below.
Retrieval of Vocabulary
When Writing is Problematic
Narratives of Adequate Length, But Many Word Finding Errors
- Student's sentences may contain many omissions:
Student's sentences may contain target word substitutions:
- Function words may be omitted (articles, prepositions, adverbs);
- Pronouns may be omitted (Omission of "you" in the sentence "I
will present reasons why should not smoke."); or
- Nouns mays be omitted (Omission of "and gentlemen" in the sentence
"Ladies of the jury.").
In class Substitutions - For example "could" was substituted for "should" (auxiliary substitutions) in the sentence "These will be reasons
why you could not smoke."
- Preposition Substitutions - For example, "to" was substituted for
"through" in the sentence "I will take these lessons to the rest
of my schooling."
- Noun Substitutions - For example, "sympathy" was substituted for
"symphony" (phonemic substitution) in the sentence "I went to
- Verb Substitutions - For example, "have" was substituted for "develop"
in the sentence "You can have a bad habit."
- Overly General Words/Target Words - For example, "stuff" was substituted
for a "detail" in the sentence "We are going to put fish and plants
and more stuff like that in our soda bottles."
- Circumlocutions - For
example, a description of carnival was substituted for the target
word itself in the sentence "The character went to a place
where there are a lot of rides."
- Student's sentences may contain word or phrase repetitions.
- Repetition of the word ecosystems in the sentence "Ecosystems
we are doing so far the ecosystems is really fun."
(Revisions) May be Prevalent
Inconsistent Morphology May be Prevalent
- Student's sentences may contain noun, verb or phrase reformulations (revisions).
- Revision of the phrase "slow up" in the sentence "It can
slow up your slow down your whole body."
- Student's sentences may contain inconsistent omission or use of
morphological endings (ing, ed, er).
- Omission of Endings - For example, omission of "ed" in the sentence
"After they answered the phone they left the room and close the door behind them.")
That Are Brief
- The number of sentences produced is low and thus, number of ideas
presented are few.
- Sentences are short and complex sentences are limited.
- Noun Phrase Expansion is Limited- Student's seldom use noun phrase
expansion. For example, the student produces two simple sentences
like "John is torn with guilt. He regrets what happened."
instead of the complex sentence "John, torn with guilt, regrets
- Verb Phrase Expansion is Limited- Student's seldom use verb phrase
expansion. For example, the student may write "John feels helpless
because his friends have left." instead of the sentence "John
feels helpless, having failed to convince his friends not to leave."
- None or a limited number of complex or compound complex sentences
such as embedded sentences or sentences containing a main clause +
one or more additional coordinating, subordinating, complementing
or relative clauses.