Tuesday, December 13, 2016

720 Hours

Did you know that the Foreign Service Institute says that for an adult who is fluent and literate in English to learn a foreign language with a different alphabetic system to a basic communication level takes at least 720 hours?

Yet we ask children who may not have reading ability and who possibly have difficulties with receptive language to prove progress towards master of a language system with as little as one hour a week of language therapy.

Even if they were adults with full receptive language, a lifetime of experience in the world and average cognitive abilities AND they spent ALL 30 hours a week at school fully engaged in AAC learning (including during transitions, meals and hygiene activities) it would take approximately six months to get to basic communication mastery.

What does this tell us? It tell us we must immerse children in their AAC system every waking moment. It means we must allow for slow progress over long periods of time without giving up. It means we must teach language, AAC, literacy and cognitive skills simultaneously. It means we do not have time to waste on things like watching movies at school or playing bingo for the five millionth time unless we have made these activities into immersive and instructive language experiences. We also don't have time to waste on supposed "pre-requisites". It means that snack, lunch, recess, PT/OT, "life skills" and hygiene cannot be breaks from learning AAC - they must be part of learning AAC.

It means it is on us to get to 720 hours of AAC immersion and intervention.

It's the most important job we have.

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