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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

It’s Imperative! Listening in on Spanish Conversations Out and About, AAC in our Community

In English-speaking homes in Arizona, parents communicative interactions with young children use many declarative statements (you like that) and interrogatives (do you like that).  I have noted that many Spanish-speaking parents here in Arizona use language with their young children that is quite loaded with imperatives.  This would be a great language study for somebody!  For now, I only have anecdotal reporting to rely on.

Many of us have witnessed periodic use of these imperative phrases, sometimes at a Mexican restaurant, the supermarket, or even on the playground.  In Spanish the grammar markers are so important they are included before and after exclamations.  Check out the images I found using my Bitmoji!

¡Mira! = Look!
¡Ven! = Come here!

Here are 3 more examples, some of which may not be recognizable to people who are not familiar with Spanish.  Would you be able to match these images to the imperative statements?
¡Dámelo! = Give me that!

¡Díme! = Tell me!

¡Ayúdame! = Help me!

Aided language input is a process of pointing to symbols as we speak, as a method to share meaning and grow expressive abilities of people who have limited verbal speech.  To reflect what parents are telling their children, the communication systems we use should also incorporate these forms: declarative, interrogatives and imperatives.

Take a look at the AAC systems you are currently using with your students, and reflect on whether they are truly robust and offer language experiences that will help the people we are supporting to build skills.  Here are a few links to AAC communication displays that you can download and try out:

Considering bilingual English/Spanish AAC options?

We are constantly growing our lexicon and thinking of new ways to share ideas with others. Think about how we use words and language.  Be careful not to judge others for the choices they make about how to share their ideas.

Most importantly - Have fun! 

Practical ideas and tips on bilingual issues and AAC can be found here - 

Also, please check out a core vocabulary resource that I created, 40 Spanish Words in 4 Months, at www.aacintervention.comhere (Tip #5).


Wagner, D. K., (2018, November). Building Augmentative Communication Skills in Homes Where English and Spanish Are Spoken: Perspectives of an Evaluator/Interventionist, Perspectives on AAC, 3, 172-185.  Download link:  https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/persp3.SIG12.172