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Verbal Comprehension Index

The verbal comprehension index (VCI) measures a child’s ability to access his vocabulary, express oneself in a meaningful manner, and apply reasoning skills to information presented verbally
It may be the result of poor memory; low socio-economic conditions; poor cultural background; a limited educational background; impoverished verbal facility; a speech defect; a verbal output disorder; poor reality testing; repression; or an auditory input problem.
A student with a low VCI will present with conceptual understanding of verbal content at a level behind the majority of their peers. They will display verbal reasoning abilities at a level behind the majority of their peers, display limited understanding of the meaning of words, and experience difficulty comprehending instructions, gleaning the meaning of phrases, sentences, idioms and colloquialisms. They can have a limited range of general knowledge and subject specific knowledge despite having adequate memory. People with VCI challenges will present with limitations in their ability to express their ideas and knowledge orally using correct and comprehensive language.

Educational impact

  • I will have difficulty following teacher input at the same rate as my peers
  • I will get confused when I am expected to understand compound and complex sentences
  • I may have a tendency to use vague, immature or nonspecific vocabulary, or poor sentence structure
  • I may appear disorganised when relating a story, or report events in an erroneous sequence
  • I may have gaps in summarizing and note taking hence be not sure of homework requirements
  • I will have a tendency to lose focus and attention in class
  • I may not contribute to class discussions and may use short, simple sentences when asked questions
  • I will find group discussions difficult and may become embarrassed if I can’t contribute the same as my peers
  • My auditory memory will not be strong
  • I will have difficulty reasoning aloud
  • I may have difficulty expressing my ideas both verbally and in the written form
  • I may have trouble following multi-step directions.
  • I may feel confused in the classroom and look disinterested
  • I may require extra explanation, time and teacher support to complete what other students can manage independently.

Behavioural impact

  • I may become frustrated in the classroom as I can’t keep up with what is being said
  • I may have low esteem and feel negative about not being able to join in the discussions
  • I may tune out as I get confused and don’t understand the context of the lesson
  • I may be very disorganised as I have not followed all the directions or written down all the directions or correctly.
  • I may feel confused in the classroom and look disinterested

Social impact

  • I will be very sensitive to the fact I may not understand or be as knowledgeable as my peers
  • I may be embarrassed if called upon to voice my opinion
  • I may compare myself to others and feel that I am not as good as they are.
  • I may be anxious
  • I may become withdrawn

Strategies - Primary

  • I will be very sensitive to the fact I may not understand or be as knowledgeable as my peers
  • I may be embarrassed if called upon to voice my opinion
  • I may compare myself to others and feel that I am not as good as they are.
  • I may be anxious
  • I may become withdrawn

Strategies - Secondary

  • Ensure the student is pre-taught the pre-requisite knowledge before the lesson begins.
  • Provide the student with an outline of the material to be covered in the lesson – this could be in the form of summary notes, preferably in dot form
  • Pre- teach new vocabulary
  • Teach related vocab in groups
  • Teach how to identify and highlight key information
  • Point out when important parts of the lesson is about to be introduced e.g. “this is the most important thing”, “if you only learn one thing today, this is it”
  • Use “what we know, what we don’t know” strategies to help activate background knowledge before a lesson or reading a text.
  • Help the student develop writing plans – mind maps, graphic organisers that enable them to specify ideas, background details and vocabulary to which they will need to refer
  • Teach the student to use a thesaurus for writing
  • Write key terms on the board during lessons, particularly when introducing new concepts.
  • Simplify instructions, avoid multi-step directions, supplement with visuals. Encourage the student to paraphrase instructions.
  • Consider providing the important components of a lesson in a cloze format. The basic structure of the lesson will be there, the student only has to add the key words.
  • Provide non-verbal activities to help the student feel less stressed

More Information and Support

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