The Peabody is designed to stimulate oral development in children whose linguistic age is between 6-8 years. In addition to stimulating oral language development, other goals are to improve intellectual function which is intended to enhance progress in academics. The daily lessons concentrate on the development of cognitive processes involving divergent, convergent and associative thinking (Dunn, 1966).

Theoretical Foundation

The Peabody language development kit was based on Osgood’s linguistic theory (1957), the work by Torrance (1962) in creative thinking and brainstorming and the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (ITPA) by Kirk & McCarthy (1961). Aspects of Guilford’s (1959) theory on nature and training of the human intellect were also used, especially in the areas of convergent and associative thinking.

This kit follows a model of psycholinguistic processes, which emphasizes reception, conceptualization and expression. It is theorised that through auditory, visual and tactile modalities, processes can be conceptualised through associative thinking (development of cognitive processes). This is then expressed through vocal and motor modalities (Dunn, 1966) The behaviour modification techniques of Skinner (1957) were used which stipulated that a child learns best when rewarded for satisfactory performance, therefore, in the PLDK the child is rewarded regularly for positive behaviour.

It was found through the works of Mueller & Smith (1964) that longer periods of treatments enhanced the chances that initial gains became permanent, this was also incorporated into the PLDK with each level being conducted for one school year and was built on with consecutive levels of the PLDK. Studies conducted by Gray & Klaus (1965) gave evidence that when culturally disadvantage students were taught in a group, it was found that they had enhanced linguistic and intellectual abilities and this was also incorporated into the PLDK. As for studies that have involved the PLDK it has been found that lessons do stimulate oral language however, it is less clear whether it is useful in training intellect and improving academic achievement.

This kit is an overall language program rather then a focus in specific psycholinguistic process; which can be seen through the daily lessons that emphasize language development. Readers or listeners construct mental models of the situation a writer or speaker is describing. This is the basis of language comprehension. There is considerable evidence in the field of both cognitive psychology and reading that supports imagery as a critical factor in language comprehension (Paivio, 1971; Kosslyn, 1976; Wittrock 1981) and that school aged readers instructed to imagine while reading performed significantly better on recall and making predictive inferences about what they had read (Kulhavy & Swenson, 1975; Gambrell, 1982).

Intervention description

The Peabody language development kits are available in a series of levels from P to 3 and are designed to flow on from each other. Each individual program is designed to be carried out for a period of approx 30 min (depending on group size) every day for one school year. Each lesson contains three of the 24 different activities (which are outlined in the manual e.g. brainstorming). The lessons have been structured so as to increase in difficulty as the year progresses. The use of puppets, songs, cards and rhymes are significant in accomplishing these activities while maintaining a group’s attention. Specific characteristics include the use of “teletalk” and a tape recorder which can be used to provide feedback to children and record progress. They can also be used to model correct use and facilitate oral language especially in conversations.

This program is structured in a way that facilitates language development, however, it does not focus on correcting a child’s language; instead the instructor should model correct language use. Other language programs can be incorporated into the PLDK so make the subject matter more meaningful for some individuals e.g. articulation and reading programs. The PLDK is designed to be a fun experience which includes song, rhymes and group interaction rather then specific teaching and instruction.

Materials/Training Required

The PLDK level 2 includes

  • A manual containing 180 "daily lessons"
  • 424 full colour stimulus cards. These cards are categorised into 7 groups e.g animals. The importance of these cards is to build vocabulary and to simulate associative thinking.
  • Set of 12 "I wonder cards" This is used to simulate imagination and continuity in story telling
  • Set of 560 plastic colour chips in a variety of colours which can be used to teach colours and sequencing of motor skills, memory and to reinforce learning.
  • Two soft puppets which are used to draw attention to topics, introduce language time and to help with withdrawn children.
  • A tape recording of 8 folktales as well as songs and music specifically used in the introduction and conclusion of language time.
  • Teletalk which is battery operated intercommunication set similar to that of a telephone and is primarily used to stimulate oral communication and model conversations.
  • Not included in the kit but necessary is a tape recorder with spare tapes in order to record samples.

Similar/Alternative Interventions


Dunn, L.M., & Smith, J.O. (1966). Peabody Language Development Kits Manual for Level 2. Minnesota: American Guidance Service.

Reynold, C.R., Mann ,L., & Fletcher-Janzen. E. (1987). Encyclopedia of Special Education: A reference for the education of the handicapped and other exceptional children ad adults (Vol 2). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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