Processing Language: Impact of Sequential Ordering

Information presented through language is arranged in a sequence. The order of that sequence is important to understanding. As students go through school, the sequences that they encounter get longer and longer. For example, students must develop their ability to understand multistep directions, to retain the sequences of procedures, and to process and hold long pieces of information in their minds when reading and listening. Students must become more and more competent with the processing of language sequences in order to enhance their understanding.

Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to process language sequences.

Helpful Hints

  • Help students process what they read and hear more effectively by building their ability to break words down into sequences. For example:
    • Provide sound segmentation activities where students identify the number of syllables or sounds heard in a word, and divide multi-syllable words into their individual sounds or parts.
    • Create structural word analysis exercises where students divide and rebuild words using prefixes, roots, and suffixes.  
  • Help students improve their understanding of logical sequences. For example:
    • Have students arrange information into sequential order, such as ordering steps in a recipe, cutting up and rearranging stories, arranging steps for scientific experiments, and ordering cause-effect chains in history.
    • Have students practice finding errors in sequential arrangements that classmates have rearranged.  
  • Teach students techniques for getting information out of each part of their textbooks. For example, how to use the table of contents and the index, to skim the chapter for key words, dates, names, etc., to look at the pictures for clues to meaning, and to read the questions at the end of the chapter.