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ELCISS aims to enhance language and communication in secondary school children with primary language and communication impairment through narrative/storytelling and vocabulary enrichment.


Therapy procedure: Three interventions were provided: narrative, vocabulary enrichment and a combined narrative and vocabulary intervention. TAs who were trained and supervised by the researchers delivered the therapy. One TA from each school carried out the therapy.

The TAs had four days of intensive training that included an introduction to language and communication, language impairment and the two interventions. Each TA received a full teaching pack containing session-by-session guidelines, general teaching principles, photocopiable resources and progress recording sheets.

Ongoing weekly support was available. Weekly meetings enabled TAs to seek advice, exchange ideas, ask questions and share experiences. Members of the research team made visits to the schools during the administration of the therapy.

The therapy took place in schools in groups of between 2-6 students, three times per week over a 6-week period with each session lasting for approximately 50 minutes. Therapy for groups A, B and C took place during period E and for group D during period G. Participants were given 18 hours of intervention.

  1. Narrative therapy
    This therapy incorporated the understanding and telling of stories with a focus on story structure and story description. It introduced the students to storytelling: the basic components of a story (character, place, time, episodes, initiating events, actions, climax, and outcomes, moral) and story structure (beginning, middle, and end) through the use of a story planner.

    Students were supported in using paralinguistic features to make their stories more interesting and were required to answer questions about the stories and critically evaluate them. Students learnt about different narrative genres and learnt to understand the importance of sequencing and story coherence.

    Emphasis was also placed on the importance of listening and signs of active listening was highlighted. Students gained practice in retelling stories and making up novel stories from materials from the National Curriculum, sequence cards, objects and materials brought in by the students themselves.
  2. Vocabulary Enrichment therapy
    This therapy involved the teaching of key concepts and vocabulary through word associations, mind mapping and word-building. Topic areas relevant to this age group were used including current affairs, famous people, employment seeking, exam preparation and the media. Specific vocabulary items from the National Curriculum were targeted including geography, history and science.

    The students were encouraged to categorise new vocabulary into related groups through the use of brainstorming and word webs to help them remember new words more easily. The students were encouraged to use synonyms, antonyms, multiple meanings, definitions and categorisation and classification games to explore word meanings and boundaries. They were encouraged to use a variety of strategies to learn new words, including the use of the dictionary.
  3. Narrative and Vocabulary Enrichment therapy
    This therapy involved a combination of both therapy approaches for the same period of time.

Study Timeline:

Time Description Status
Time A: Sep 2006-January 2007: Recruitment of staff, contact with schools. Application for ethical permission. Screening of Year 7 students with English SATS scores of level 4c or below. COMPLETED
Time B: February–July 2007: First in-depth baseline assessment of students. COMPLETED
Time C: 6-months no therapy baseline for all students COMPLETED
Time D: October 2007–January 2008: Second assessment (pre-therapy assessment) COMPLETED
Time E: January 2008: Training of teaching assistants January – March 2008: THERAPY IN SCHOOLS: 18 sessions per group, 3 per week, over 6 weeks commencing week beginning 21st January. Three groups (narrative, storytelling, combined narrative and storytelling) COMPLETED
Time F: March-July 2008: Third assessment (post therapy assessment for 3 groups; pre-therapy assessment for delayed control group) COMPLETED
Time G: October-December 2008: Retuning training for teaching assistants for delayed group training, THERAPY IN SCHOOLS FOR Delayed Treatment group COMPLETED
Time H: January-March 2009: Fourth assessment (post therapy for delayed treatment group and follow up for other 3 groups) COMPLETED
Time I: April 2009-September 2009: data entry, data analysis, write up, wider school training and dissemination. COMPLETED