Tip Tuesday! Articulation Tip: Teaching Students to Self-Monitor Speech Rate!

This is Part 2 of a previous post focusing on training slow speech rate.  Find Part 1 here.

When working on teaching a slow rate of speech, the 3rd and final step to making slow rate a habit, is for a child to self-monitor his/her own speech rate.  I call this skill “Listening to myself”.  I do this by using three basic techniques we as SLPs tend to use when focusing on correct articulation production and/or fluency.

The key is to use the techniques that work for the child across all levels of speech complexity (word, phrase, sentence, reading (if a reader) and conversation level).  This means I may have to use a variety of cues to determine the cuing system (verbal, visual, tactile) that will work for this child.  I remember that I am scaffolding the child to use a skill I have already taught him/her: a slow speech rate.

3 Techniques for Self-Monitoring Slow Speech Rate:

1.  Using verbal cues:  Verbal cues are any words or phrases I have found that successfully cue the child to monitor and/or change his/her speech rate to a slower rate.  In this technique I include:

  • Types of Modeling: (including previously taught techniques in Part 1)

    • Over Exaggeration
    • Rhythm 
    • Tapping
    • Consistent use of slow rate by SLP

  • Verbal Reminders: 

    • Directives: (explain exactly what you want the child to do)  “Slow down”, “Make sure you pause when speaking”, “Take some breaths”.
    • Feigning Misunderstanding: (pretend you can only understand the child when he/she uses a slow rate)  “I’m sorry, what did you say?”, or “I can’t understand you when you talk so quickly”.
    • Descriptive Speech:  “Remember to use your turtle talk” or “Remember to snail sail your messages”

2.  Using Visual Cues:  I create visual cues that can be used independently or go along with the descriptive speech reminders above.  Below are some of the visuals I use to cue use of slow speech or to have the student evaluate his own speech rate and determine which pace he is using.  I like to laminate these and glue to a Popsicle sticks so they can be held up easily.  You can grab your FREE copy of these visual cues here!

3.  Paying Attention to Listener Cues:  The last thing I do is train the student to use visual cues from the listener to see if his/her speech is being understood.  If not, they need to slow their speech rate.  

  • Understand/Aware of “Confusion”:  I want my student to know what it looks like when someone is confused by his/her speech production.  To do this I begin by using a number of emotions pictures (the ones I use for my children with ASD) and have the child label the pictures that represent when a listener is confused vs. understanding.  
    • Describe confusion:We discuss how confusion can be visualized at times by “facial muscles are strained-pinched eyebrows or raised eyebrows and enlarged eyes, shoulder shrug, open mouth, and even a long pause after you are finished talking”.
    • Describe understanding:  We know someone is understanding us when they are “nodding their head in agreement, looking us in the eye, smiling, facial muscles relaxed, etc.”.
  • Label Confusion/Understanding in SLP facial expressions:  Then we practice labeling confusion vs. understanding first in my facial expressions and what to do IF confusion is identified (a.k.a. slow down speech rate!).
  • Label Confusion/Understanding in peer’s facial expressions:  Then we spend time labeling confusion vs. understanding in peer’s facial expressions and what to do IF confusion is identified.
By the time student’s master technique #3 they are beginning to use slow rate more often than not and do not require much more monitoring practice.  Then I move on to focusing on correct speech production.

Word of caution:  These techniques will not be come a habit unless consistently used and targeted until the child no longer needs scaffolding.  So remember, you may spend many weeks on some of these skills depending on the child’s development, cognition, and monitoring skills.

Those are my techniques for teaching a child to “listen to him/herself”.  What are yours?

Happy Talking!