Talking About Country Populations in Speech Therapy

Talking About Country Populations in Speech Therapy

One of my favorite things to mention when I work with a child who stutters is the fact that 1% of the United States population stutters. This is such a powerful statistic to share because most children on my caseload, prior to beginning speech therapy with me, genuinely believe that they’re the only person on the planet who stutters. Well, that simply isn’t true because once we look deeper into that 1% statistic; it equals out to be over 3 million Americans who stutter (Whoa!). After my students hear that amazing fact, I always have to pick their jaws up off the floor because they are just so happily blown away.

Facts often trigger more facts!

Not too long ago, a 2nd grade student on my caseload who was working towards perfecting her /L/ sound said to me, “Mr. Raj, I heard from (name of student who stutters) that there are 3 million people in America that stutter.” She then went on to ask, “By any chance, do you know the total population of America? Like, how many people live here all together with us?”

Let’s chat about populations!

I informed the student that the population of the United States is about 313 million people. Just as I suspected, the number amazed her, but then she did something that truly impressed me. She walked over to the globe that I had and questioned, “What about Canada? What is the population of Canada? And what about Mexico? What is the population of Mexico?”

Google search engine to the rescue!

I had to be honest with the student and tell her that I didn’t have a clue. But then, I mentioned that we could use my cell phone to do a quick Google search to find out. Thanks to Google, we found out that the population of Mexico was 112 million and the population of Canada was 34 million. Cool!

Articulation therapy idea? You bet!

As this student and I were chatting about the population of these random countries, I remembered that she was working on the /L/ sound. I got the bright idea to type into the Google search bar the following question: Which countries begin with the letter L?

Sure enough, the magical Google machine was able to share with me these 9 countries!

  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Liberia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg

Together, the student and I thought about our /L/ sound strategies and attempted to say the country names while we searched for the country on our globe. Then, the student and I used my cell phone to find out the population of these countries that begin the letter L. We would continue our /L/ sound practice by saying sentences like, “Compared to Lebanon, Luxembourg is little” or “Lebanon is larger than Luxembourg.”We had such a blast! (FYI: Lebanon has 4.2 million and Luxembourg has 518 thousand.)

In closing . . .

This little speech therapy idea is just another reason that illustrates how much I adore being a school-based speech-language pathologist. Not only do I have the honor of helping students grow as effective communicators, but I also have the opportunity to briefly teach them about numbers and geography. We SLPs sure do wear many different hats, don’t we? Haha! So, do you think your students would enjoy learning about different countries and their population? Have you ever done something similar to this before? As always, I would totally love to hear from you.

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