This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
The best way I ever have found to stimulate two-word combinations is to model them melodically following the basic research done on Melodic Intonation Therapy (see resources below) — this research was done with adults, but people have applied it to kids ever since it first came out.
I use a two-tone high-low melodic pattern. Model the first word on the high tone, and the second word on the lower tone. The two tones help the kids divide the verbal presentation into two separate entities. It helps them hear the two individual words. The tone acts like a little melody that teaches them to say the two words in sequence.
Do you know “The Wheels on the Bus” song? (The wheels on the bus go round and round…) The tones on “round” and the next “round” is the high-low melody I am talking about.
Model “Baby go” or “Eat cookie” as Tone-tone. At first you are just looking for the child to imitate the tonal pattern. The words will fill-in as the child’s production of the tone gets better and more consistent.
This is just like teaching a little kid to sing a song. You just keep singing it to him and pretty soon he is mumbling the tune along with you. Later, he begins to fill the words into the appropriate spaces.
I have always found that melody is one of our best tools to teach kids just about anything they might say. So I use it to teach 2+syllable words, 2+word combinations, counting, ABC’s, colors, etc..
- Albert, M., & Sparks, R., & Helm, N. (1973). Melodic intonation therapy for aphasia. JAMA Neurology (Formerly: Archives of Neurology) 29, 130–131.
- Helfrich-Miller (1994). Melodic intonation therapy for developmental apraxia. Clinics in Communication Disorders, 4, 175-182.