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That's LIFE! Language Cards
Ages: 12-18   Grades: 7-Adult

These cards offer practical content for helping adolescents develop age-appropriate language skills.


  • Build higher-level semantic skills
  • Understand and use complex language forms
  • Improve comprehension and use of abstract language
  • Effectively express opinions and participate in discussions


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The format—stimuli on the front and answers on the back of the card—gives several teaching options.  Use the cards for direct instruction, to launch discussions, as stimuli in games, in learning centers, and for independent study.  Each card has four to ten stimulus items.  The content reflects the vocabulary and language demands of junior high and high school classrooms. 

The material is organized into three major areas:

  • Semantics—antonyms, synonyms, categories, similarities and differences, multiple meanings, idioms, and homonyms
  • Syntax and Morphology—past tense verbs, discriminating verb tenses, pronouns, verbs and adverbs, and plurals
  • Pragmatics—stating opinions, discussion topics, Who am I?, Persuade Me, and role-playing

Stimulus items within each skill area (e.g., antonyms, past tense verbs, etc.) are presented in a hierarchical order.

Copyright © 2009

200 4" x 6" double-sided, coated cards; 13 instruction cards
  • Students who struggle with vocabulary acquisition need more trials than typical learners to maximize vocabulary growth (Montgomery, 2007).
  • Semantic knowledge is thought to drive the processing of meaning in language (Rhodes & Donaldson, 2008).
  • Language and literacy are important for successful transition to adulthood and are associated with adolescents' independent functioning and the successful management of that independence.  Findings show the need to reinforce oral language skills throughout the school years (Conti-Ramsden & Durkin, 2008).

That's LIFE! Language Cards incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Conti-Ramsden, G., & Durkin, K. (2008). Language and independence in adolescents with and without a history of specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 51, 70-83.

Montgomery, J. (2007, November). Vocabulary interventions for RTI: Tiers 1, 2, 3. Presentation at the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) conference, Boston: MA.

Rhodes, S.M., & Donaldson, D.I. (2008). Association and not semantic relationships elicit the N400 effect: Electrophysiological evidence from an explicit language comprehension task. Psychophysiology, 45, 50-59.


Gail J. Richard


Gail J. Richard, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a professor and chair of the communication disorders and sciences department at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.  Gail specializes in childhood developmental language disorders, enjoying the challenges of diagnostic assessment and designing applicable treatment plans for children with autism spectrum disorders, processing disorders, learning disabilities, and other developmental delays.  Prior to almost 30 years at the university level, Gail worked in the Iowa public schools, serving children from preschool through high school.  Her clinical experiences have expanded into providing workshops, classes, and consultation for professional colleagues around the country.

Gail is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, resulting from professional leadership activities in conjunction with committees, the legislative council, and the executive board.  She has also received honors of the association and fellowship from the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  She has been recognized with numerous distinguished awards for her teaching, research, service, and leadership at the university level.

Publications with LinguiSystems include seven books in the Source series, three diagnostic instruments, and three clinical material resources.  Gail has also written several book chapters and professional articles in her areas of expertise.


That's LIFE! Language Cards were originally published under the title File of Intermediate Language Exercises (FILE), which was my first publication with LinguiSystems.  At that time, I worked with upper-elementary, junior high, and high school students who had language disorders.  I experienced a void in applicable materials for intermediate and secondary level students to address higher-level language skills.  I paired my experience with research and teacher suggestions to develop functional language activities that targeted the diverse and complex language skills required at the intermediate level.  At this point in my professional life, I have spent three decades involved in research and clinical assessment and treatment of language processing disorders.  The challenges to facilitate development of abstract language skills in the pre-teen and adolescent populations have only increased.  Organized, focused verbal skills have actually eroded with the reliance on text messaging and email.

The language skills targeted in the original FILE have retained their pertinence in current times, thus the demand to make the language activities available again.  The material has been updated to reflect the topics and concerns of this generation.  That's LIFE! Language Cards includes stimuli and therapy tasks for semantics, syntax, morphology, and pragmatic areas of language.  The format allows students to work independently or with peer groups by checking responses on the back of the cards for accuracy.  Competition among peers is usually motivating for this level of students.  Who says language treatment can't be fun?