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Language strategies: Interpreting

Language difficulties are nobody’s fault but changing the way you talk can really help your child.

How do I use this strategy?

Say it as they would if they could.

Illustration of adult interpreting child's speech

When your child uses a noise or sound, gesture, facial expression or word – you would say a word or phrase that matches what you think they are trying to communicate.

The language you use should match the level your child is using language at. For example:

  • your child looks in an empty cup and holds up both hands… you say “gone”
  • your child looks at you and points to an aeroplane in the sky… you say “aeroplane”
  • your child says “du” whilst looking at a duck… you say “yes duck”

Why use this strategy?

  • This strategy gives your child recognition of what they are trying to communicate
  • It also lets them know you are listening and hearing them
  • It gives them a clear model of the word they were saying or an example of what they could say
  • This is the first step to having a conversation with your child, even if they don’t have words yet

Additional resources and information

These videos are part of the Weekend Words series and explain and demonstrate how to use language strategies in everyday activities at home.

Information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication: Speech and Language UK

Activities for parents, children and young people to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home: Words For Life

An article on: Helping Your Child to Talk

Helping you help children to communicate: The Hanen Centre

The Giving Voice campaign aims to ‘give voice’ to people with speech, language and communication needs: Giving Voices 

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL31

Resource Type: Article

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