Recasting: A parent-friendly strategy for language development
Recasting is one of the most parent-friendly strategies to help support your child’s speech and language development. But what is this strategy? And why, when, and how do you use it?
Let’s start with the what?
A recast occurs when a communication partner repeats something a child says with more detailed language, or more correct language.
The child says, “mommy home” and the adult responds with, “Yes! Mommy is home!”
The child says, “want juice” and the adult responds with, “I want more apple juice please!”
The child says, “big doggy” and the adult responds with, “That is a big, black doggy! He is barking so loud!”
Why use this strategy?
Recasting is one of the easiest and most effective ways a parent can help their child learn language outside of the speech therapy room. It allows a child to hear more accurate and descriptive language, and provides them with plenty of opportunities to listen to and figure out how the language system works.
Recasts model and expand language for the child without correcting them. Correcting a child’s speech (e.g., saying “No, you don’t say ‘want spoon,’ you say ‘I want the spoon’”) puts negative pressure on the child, and research shows children simply do not learn language this way.
Instead, recasting allows a parent to teach language in a positive, low-pressure way. If done correctly, it keeps the conversational exchange going without stopping for a negative interruption. It also shows the child that you are listening to them and really focusing on their words.
How do you do it?
As the examples above show, you recast your child’s language by adding something more to it. You may add a descriptive word, an article, a verb tense, or a verb such as is/are to make their utterance longer and more accurate.
Emphasize the linguistic feature you would like your child to learn. For example, if they are learning to use articles, put extra emphasis on the article you add to the utterances. If they say, “I see car,” you say “I see A car.”
Do not force your child to repeat you, or tell them that their first try was wrong. This should be a positive, natural conversational exchange for the child.
When should you do it?
Studies show that the more frequently you recast language for a child, the better. When communicating with a child, particularly a child with a language delay, it is recommended that you use recasts 1-2 times per MINUTE (Cleave, et al., 2015; Eisenburg, 2014, Fey, Long & Finestack, 2003). This tool should also be used as often as possible, across as many settings as possible. Parents, teachers, and speech therapists should all recast when talking to the child.
Jarzynski, R. (2017, June 24). The Use of Recasts with Toddlers and Preschoolers. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from http://www.speechscience.org/toddlers-and-preschoolers/2017/6/24/the-use-of-recasts-with-toddlers-and-preschoolers
Cleave, P., Becker, S., Curran, M., Owen Van Home, A. & Fey, M. (2015). The Efficacy of Recasts in Language Intervention: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 24, 237-255.