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HELP® for Language
Ages: 8-Adult   Grades: 3-Adult

Develop language flexibility and reasoning for everyday situations.  Clients learn abstract language as it applies to functional skills like question-answering, question-asking, and descriptive language.  


  • Improve understanding of abstract and ambiguous language by interpreting subtle meanings; discriminating between literal and rhetorical questions; explaining metaphors, proverbs, and similes; and explaining oxymorons and meanings of intonations
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Written in the best-selling format of the HELP series, these language lessons are known for their:

  • expansive content
  • appeal to a broad age-range
  • goal-driven activities
  • gradual increase in complexity within and between activities
  • application to a wide range of developmental and acquired language processing disorders

Clients learn to:

  • read between the lines
  • draw logical conclusions from inadequate information
  • discriminate among multiple meanings of words
  • choose between literal and non-literal meanings
  • extrapolate useful from irrelevant information

The activities develop higher-level language in four areas:

Answering and Asking Questions

  • what would happen if
  • what could
  • when do/does
  • how do/does
  • why don't/doesn't
  • if questions and true/false statements

Describing Objects and Defining Words

  • object attributes, functions and actions
  • exclusion and negation
  • similarities, differences, and classifying
  • analogies
  • descriptive words
  • using context to determine word meanings

Reading and Listening

  • predicting content
  • identify the main idea
  • paraphrase passages
  • draw inferences from stories
  • describe and interpret pictures

Applying Language Skills

  • interpret subtle meanings
  • discriminate between literal and rhetorical questions
  • interpret idioms and proverbs
  • explain similes, metaphors, and oxymorons
  • understand intonation


Copyright © 2004

167 pages, IEP goals, answer key

The HELP books are all superior products that go the extra mile to help children with special needs.  Thank you!

Mary Fratianni, Special Needs Coordinator
Port Jefferson Station, NY

  • Students are expected to make inferences in authentic reading situations as well as on high-stakes standardized tests (McMackin & Newton, 2001).
  • Standardized tests require students to predict, draw conclusions, elaborate, explain, and make analogies (McMackin & Newton, 2001).
  • Grammar, discourse structure, and metalinguistics are all connected to reading and writing achievement and required for text comprehension (ASHA, 2001).
  • Summarization is a skill that helps students identify main ideas and recall information needed to answer comprehension questions (NRP, 2000).
  • Answering wh- questions is a common method of teaching.  Difficulty answering wh- questions affects a child academically, linguistically, and socially (Parnell, Amerman, & Hartin, 1986).
  • The inability to interpret figurative language leads to a breakdown in text comprehension, which in turn, can frustrate readers and discourage them from continuing reading tasks, and can cause delays in later language development (Palmer & Brooks, 2004).

Help for Language incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2001). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with respect to reading and writing in children and adolescents [Guidelines]. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

McMackin, M.C., & Newton, S.L. (2001). Investigative inferences: Constructing meaning from expository texts. Reading Horizons, 42(2), 118-137.

National Reading Panel (NRP). (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction-Reports of the subgroups. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

Palmer, B.C., & Brooks, M.A. (2004). Reading until the cows come home: Figurative language and reading comprehension. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47, 370-379.

Parnell, M.M., Amerman, J.D., & Hartin, R.D. (1986). Responses of language-disordered children to wh- questions. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 17, 95-106.


Andrea M. Lazzari


Andrea M. Lazzari, Ed.D., is a speech-language pathologist for Henrico County Public Schools in Richmond, Virginia.  She has also worked in a community clinic and in private practice.  She has taught preschool students with disabilities and was supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education Programs for the state of Virginia.  She has also served as a teacher trainer at the college and university levels.  HELP for Language is Andrea's twenty-second publication with LinguiSystems.  She is the author or co-author of several other publications, including 125 Ways to Be a Better Test Taker Elementary, 125 Ways to Be a Better Test Taker Intermediate, and the HELP series.  She also developed the HELP Elementary Test.  When she's not teaching or writing, Andrea serves as leader of Girl Scout Troop 3059 and pit crew chief for her daughter Tamara's Soap Box Derby car.



HELP for Language provides speech-language pathologists, teachers, parents, and other facilitators with a framework and materials to help children and adults improve their understanding and expression of abstract language.  It is intended for children (age 8 and above) and adults who demonstrate weakness or impairment in processing abstract or ambiguous language.

Abstractness and ambiguity are pervasive features of daily communication.  Each day, we are required to "read between the lines" of oral language.  We must make inferences from minimal communication segments, draw conclusions from inadequate information, discriminate among multiple meanings of words, choose between literal and non-literal meanings, and extrapolate useful from irrelevant information.  Each of these skills must be applied within the context of a communication environment that is rapidly delivered and constantly shifting.  Individuals who have not mastered these skills are at a disadvantage in understanding academic materials, performing adequately in the workplace, and interacting smoothly in social situations.

Previous books in the HELP series provide the basis for building concrete language skills.  HELP for Language fills the gap in available materials to support clients with weaknesses in abstract language processing.  This book scaffolds on a strong foundation of basic language skills, enabling clients to develop and apply higher-order thinking and reasoning skills.

As with each book in the HELP series, HELP for Language takes a no-frills approach to language development and remediation.  Skilled clinical judgment is needed to match tasks with each client's needs and to expand each lesson to reflect each client's individual background and interests.  The following guidelines will help you effectively use the tasks in HELP for Language:

  • Begin by identifying the individual's present level of performance, using the person's strengths as a basis for remediating her weaknesses.
  • Choose tasks that are relevant to the client's communication needs and functional communication profile.
  • Select tasks and items within tasks to enable an individual to gain new skills without being overwhelmed by the difficulty of the tasks.  The tasks within each of the four sections and the items within each task are presented with a gradual increase in complexity.
  • Use your own judgment in presenting the tasks orally or as worksheets.  If you give tasks for homework, keep in mind that the purpose of homework is review and reinforcement.  It's better to introduce and provide practice with new tasks and items in a therapy setting.
  • Present materials at a pace that matches the client's rate of acquisition, factoring in repetition for mastery.
  • Relate the material to each client's real-world experiences, striving to help the client achieve carryover of target skills to daily communication.
  • An answer key has been provided for most of the tasks.  Suggested answers have been given for most of the items; however, many answers may be acceptable.  Accept any reasonable responses your clients may give, as long as they back them up with appropriate reasoning.

"After all is said and done," I am "pleased as punch" to present HELP for Language.  I hope that it helps you "hit the ground running" and enables your clients to "make tracks" toward becoming "top-notch" communicators.