Fun Ways to Work on Understanding Literal vs. Inferential Questions in Speech Therapy

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How do we teach them how to understand the different types of questions in speech?!

Understanding Literal vs. Inferential Questions in Speech Therapy


Our students are expected to answer higher level thinking questions as they enter the upper grades.  It is expected as part of the common core.  It is expected based on Bloom's Taxonomy and Depth of Knowledge (whatever philosophies your school believes in!).  We often focus so much on answering WH questions since that was something they once struggled with that we often forget that we can help them answer different types of questions after that AND WE SHOULD since they are expected to do this skill in the classroom.  The more we are working on what they are working on in the classroom, we become relevant and can see more carryover.

What is the difference between literal and inferential questions?

Let's rewind just to make sure you are aware!  Literal questions are those basic WH questions.  Inferential questions require students to use clues from a text (or picture or video) + their background knowledge and make a smart guess.  The answer was not explicitly stated in the text.  (CLICK HERE to read my blog post with TONS of strategies on how I teach inferencing!).


Working On Inferencing In Speech and Understanding Background Knowledge: Tips, tricks, and resources for SLPs

Why do our students often struggle with inferential questions? order to infer…they need to have adequate vocabulary, memory, understanding of syntactical structures, listening comprehension, and more!  Those are ALL our domains!  We can help them!  In this post I am focusing on differentiating between the TWO question types which can also be very tricky!

Teaching our students about key words

One way we can help our students is by helping them become familiar with inferential vocabulary.  In questions they might often see words like: probably, might, should, think, assume, and could.  These words help students know that there is NOT a definite answer and it requires some extra thinking.  You can easily make a quick visual like the one I did below to teach them about the vocabulary OR JUST CLICK HERE TO GRAB IT FREE!  Get them familiar with it and have them practice using it in conversation and to answer questions.

Understanding Literal vs Inferential Questions in Speech Therapy


I like to teach them to use “right there” questions for literal and “think a bit” questions for inferential to make it easier to comprehend!

Keep practicing to get them familiar!

I like using various types of texts to get them familiar with this concept.  I might use videos and create questions using Edpuzzle.  I have them identify if the questions are literal or inferential.  Learn more about edpuzzle by CLICKING HERE!

Using Inferencing Visuals on a Stick in Speech Therapy

I also like using pictures with my Inferencing Pictures resource (CLICK HERE to check it out!)

Using Inferencing Visuals on a Stick in Speech Therapy

I also use free articles like those on NewsELA to work on identifying question types about a text!

Fun Ways To Use News ELA in Speech and Language Therapy

Don't be afraid to make it interactive and fun!

This can be a tricky skill and will require a TON of practice.  Make it fun.  Change up the types of texts and resources you use!  Cut questions up and have students sort them!

understanding literal vs inferential questions in speech

You can also make worksheets FUN by using a free app like Doodle Buddy to help them locate evidence and answer questions!  (CLICK HERE to learn more about Doodle Buddy and CLICK HERE to learn more about the text evidence worksheet shown!)Understanding Literal vs Inferential Questions in Speech

You can also have students cut and paste question types to sort them like I have provided in my Inferencing Stories resource (CLICK HERE to learn more about it).

Understanding Literal vs Inferential Questions in Speech

Just don't forget to break it down and make it visual!

Keep showing them HOW to identify the difference so they become more familiar!  Also show them HOW to answer the questions.  They need to know the vocabulary of answering!

Understanding Literal vs Inferential Questions in Speech

Have you grabbed these free visuals yet?!  They will really help your students grasp literal vs. inferential questions!

Understanding Literal vs Inferential Questions in Speech

CLICK HERE to grab these free visuals!