Adolescent Vocabulary Growth: Semantic Feature Analysis

September 13, 2013 BY Kira Wright, CCC-SLP

This is part of a continuing series of posts on therapy ideas to support assistants (SLPAs) and paraprofessionals in the schools in their work with students and their supervising SLPs.

Using a semantic feature analysis chart can be an effective way to use classroom materials to target secondary goals for vocabulary, descriptive language, organization, and comprehension. A semantic feature analysis chart is a visual way of grouping ideas or concepts based on different features. A simple example might be the way we think about animals at the zoo. We could list the animals and group them in several ways:

  • by size of the animal,
  • by color (dark, light, spotted),
  • by mammal/not mammal,
  • by location of the exhibit,
  • etc.

Using a visual organizer chart for recording these details about the animals on our list allows us to rely on the visual for more complex analysis of the material – thorough descriptions and definitions, discussion on similarities and differences (compare/contrast), and even summarizing and predicting. Suddenly, a zebra becomes a large, black and white striped mammal, whose exhibit is near the giraffes at our zoo!

Look at some examples of semantic feature analysis charts for literature, math vocabulary, science concepts, and social studies!

I’m looking forward to the session on addressing vocabulary goals at OSHA 2013! Will we see you there?

SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.