Home Speech-Language Pathology Broken Cell Phones Get Students Talking in Speech Therapy

Broken Cell Phones Get Students Talking in Speech Therapy

by Erik Raj
written by

cellphone macro

Photo by chrisdlugosz

(This post originally appeared on the ArticBrain blog)

I’ll be the first to admit it: I am addicted to my cell phone just as much as the next person. Those pocket sized machines help us to talk with family, text message friends, surf the web, and so much more, but what do we do when our beloved cell phone bites the dust? Most people simply throw the broken device away in the trash. Well, I am here to tell you to save that lifeless cell phone because I guarantee it can bring some liveliness into your next speech therapy session. Don’t believe me?! Well, all you have to do is use your imagination and call someone famous!

Magic cell phone!

Inform your student that the broken cell phone you have is actually a MAGIC cell phone that can call ANYONE in the entire world! Ask them to call one of their favorite movie stars, rock stars, or anyone on television. Remind them to use appropriate social language (introduce yourself, be polite, etc.). This is a great activity that encourages verbalization from all students in a very natural and non-intrusive way (yippie!).

Give details!

Ask your student to name who their chosen famous person is. What does the person look like? Where is the person from? What movies is the person in? What songs does the person sing? All of these questions help the child to practice describing a person who is not immediately in the classroom. At times, this can be really tricky for children enrolled in speech therapy. Feel free to jump on the internet to look up the biography of the famous person if your student gets stuck (thank goodness for Google!).

Practice sounds!

If your student is working on articulation, it is amazingly easy to incorporate this activity to meet his/her pronunciation goals and objectives. Push your students to use as many target sound-specific words as possible while conversing with the famous person “on the other line.” Let the student know that you spoke with the famous person before hand and he/she will be listening very closely for any misarticulations (better bring that “A” game!).

Lots more!

There are just SO many different directions that one can take this specific speech therapy idea.

  • Are you trying to promoting turn-taking skills? You can with this activity!
  • Are you trying to work on pronouns such as you, I, me, and yours? This activity has you covered!
  • How about working on proper volume and increasing your student’s loudness? Oh, this is the perfect activity for you because if the person on the other end of the phone can’t hear you, he/she just might hang up!

So who do you think your students are going to want to call? Who would you want to call? How on Earth did we ever survive without cell phones before? It would be fantastic to hear from you. Please let me know if you gave this broken cell phone idea a go. Have a great speech therapy session!


Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP (www.erikxraj.com) is a speech-language pathologist who has provided direct care to pediatric, adolescent, and adult clients who exhibit a broad spectrum of communication difficulties. He is presently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders as a Thomas C. Rumble University Graduate Fellowship recipient at Wayne State University. Erik is also the founder of ArticBrain, LLC (www.articbrain.com), a speech therapy product development company.

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Travis Camp, M.S., CCC/SLP August 9, 2011 - 11:39 pm

Great idea! Thanks for the new tool! Can’t wait to try it with a few of my shy kiddos this week.

Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP August 10, 2011 - 12:58 pm

Thanks so much for giving the post a read, Travis! 🙂

Lila August 10, 2011 - 1:27 pm

Ditto!! I will try this with my students too. What a super idea!

robin sue kahn August 11, 2011 - 10:49 pm

actually – i have held onto my old phones. this is a wonderful post!
as a suggestion in addition to what Travis wrote – old phones are typically simpler than newer ones. as a result older adults who have diminishing cognitive abilities also benefit from old phones – if they are still workable. when my father was ill with alzheimer’s disease i was able to give him an older phone that i had saved. Verizon, at the time was able to get it up and running and it allowed him to communicate by that means for a little while anyway…but it helped. maybe this concept would be of help to others, so i thought that i would share it with you.

Zainab August 12, 2011 - 3:59 am

Interesting use of the cellphone..very innovative. I just have a quick question..Will the kids loose interest in the activity if they hear no response?

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