Comprehension and Processing

How language is processed:

Comprehension refers to what language a student understands and is also called:

  • verbal comprehension
  • understanding
  • receptive language

Processing refers to what a student does with the information they receive in order to understand it. Language processing is complex. It is more than listening or understanding and is dependant upon the integration of a whole range of skills.

  • Hearing
  • Sustaining attention
  • Discrimination
  • Holding auditory information in memory
  • Making links between words and ideas
  • Associating new information with old
  • Putting the whole thing together to make sense
    …………and it all happens AT SPEED!……….

Making sense of the continuous stream of sound which constitutes the speech of another person can be extremely challenging because auditory information is so fleeting and short lived. For this reason many students with comprehension/processing difficulties will begin to rely on visual prompts and clues.

During adolescence language becomes:

  • More sophisticated
  • Ambiguous
  • Abstract
  • Subject specific
  • Technical

There is increased use of:

  • Verbal teaching styles
  • Sarcasm
  • Prediction
  • Justifying
  • Comparing
  • Inferring
  • Problem Solving
  • Idioms e.g  The boot’s on the other foot; He calls a spade a spade; She laughed her head off

Comprehension and Processing

There may be an impact on the student’s behaviour for example, they may:

  • Opt out of class discussion
  • Give up or walk out
  • Have wandering attention
  • Disrupt others
  • Become withdrawn
  • Become disaffected

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Last updated: 27 November 2012

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