30 Vocabulary Goals for Speech Therapy (Based on Research)

Need some ideas for vocabulary goals for speech therapy? If you’re feeling stuck, keep on reading! In this post, I’ll provide some suggestions you could use for writing iep goals for vocabulary and semantics. This blog post provides a list of vocabulary-based iep goals that should be modified for each individual student. They can serve as a way to get ideas flowing! Not only that, but I’ll also share some strategies for vocabulary intervention. Vocabulary skills are an important skill to work on in speech therapy!

30 vocabulary goals for speech therapy (includes an iep goal bank for school SLPs)

Goal Bank of Ideas

If you’re a school speech pathologist, then you know you’re going to have a huge pile of paperwork!

We have a lot going on, and it can be helpful to have a suggested list of vocabulary goals that you can modify in order to meet the needs of your students.

Many times, we know what we need to write a goal for, but finding the right wording can be tricky.

Needless to say, it can be very helpful to have a goal bank that can provide a starting point for ideas. ***Please note, the article linked in this paragraph is a general goal bank- keep scrolling for vocabulary-specific goals!

Please note, the goals in the goal bank are just that: ideas. We must always, of course, write goals that are individualized to our students. Which isn’t easy, and takes a lot of your SLP knowledge and expertise into account!

How to Write Measurable IEP Goals

It’s very helpful to learn the SMART framework for writing specific and measurable IEP goals. There are some CEU courses available for SLPs. This ceu course discusses writing SMARTer goals. Likewise, this course also discusses IEP goal writing.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Learn more about the SMART framework here.

Reference: Diehm, Emily. “Writing Measurable and Academically Relevant IEP Goals with 80% Accuracy over Three Consecutive Trials.” Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, vol. 2, no. 16, 2017, pp. 34–44., https://doi.org/10.1044/persp2.sig16.34.

Reference: staff, n2y. “Tips for Writing and Understanding Smart Iep Goals: N2Y Blog.” n2y, 22 Feb. 2021, https://www.n2y.com/blog/smart-iep-goals/.

Target Vocabulary Words: Where to Start

It can be tricky to know where to begin when it comes to vocabulary intervention! However, vocabulary practice is important!

The first step for some children may be learning core vocabulary. If your student needs to work on functional communication, this is a great place to start. I like to teach core vocabulary during play or throughout a child’s school day.

Both younger children and older children, however, will greatly benefit from exposure and explicit instruction to a variety of Tier II vocabulary words.

What are Tier II vocabulary words? These are words that are used by more advanced language users, and they can be used across a variety of contexts. An example of a tier II vocabulary word is ‘observe’. Research tells us that Tier II vocabulary words are exceptionally important for reading comprehension.

Speech-language pathologists don’t need to wait until a child is older to work on Tier II vocabulary! Even preschool students can benefit from the exposure and explicit instruction during speech therapy sessions. A great activity for younger students might involve using picture books that contain tier II vocabulary words. Or, use a wordless book and the possibilities are endless!

Tier 1 vocabulary words are everyday words that your student likely has had a lot of exposure to naturally. The word ‘table’, for example, is a Tier 1 vocabulary word.

Tier III vocabulary words are domain-specific words. These could be the type of words that are taught during math or science.


Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York, NY: The Guilford.

Boshart, Char. “Exploring Vocabulary Interventions and Activities From Preschool Through Adolescence”. . SpeechTherapyPD.com.

Vocabulary Strategies for Intervention

Need a great way to implement vocabulary instruction? How about 15 great ideas to encourage vocabulary knowledge and development? These best practices for vocabulary building skills are based on research and can be used with a preschool student, an elementary school student, or a middle school or high school student.

Your students with language disorders will no doubt benefit from vocabulary intervention. Vocabulary intervention, along with grammar and sentence structure intervention, is an important component of reading comprehension success.

Vocabulary intervention can- and should- be fun and meaningful. So don’t hesitate to read engaging books, break out a sensory bin, or play games! Check out this list of recommended board games for speech therapy.

15 Effective Vocabulary Strategies Based on Research

The following ways may be fun ways to incorporate vocabulary activities and vocabulary intervention into speech therapy sessions:

  1. Select a small number of tier II words to focus on during your session, perhaps 3-5.
  2. Don’t be afraid to repeat those words- repetition is important!
  3. Keep your student actively engaged. Engaged learners will retain more information!
  4. If reading a story aloud, stop and have active discussions. It’s okay to take lots of time to finish the story, even across consecutive sessions.
  5. Have your student say the word aloud multiple times- this is called “phonological rehearsal”.
  6. Have your student write out the vocabulary target word.
  7. Have your student draw a picture to explain the definition of the target word. Keep the picture card and collect them and review them.
  8. Make sure to explain the definition in child-friendly terms.
  9. Have your student generate their own sentence and definition using the vocabulary word.
  10. Act out the word’s meaning.
  11. Don’t forget about the importance of morphological awareness and knowledge. Discuss prefixes, suffixes, and word roots.
  12. Talk about word relationships, synonyms, antonyms, or multiple-meaning words.
  13. Discuss similarities and differences between targeted vocabulary words.
  14. Print out a picture of an object (to represent the target vocabulary word) and color it or paint it!
  15. Try concept mapping.
This is a vocabulary activity for speech therapy. It can be used with elementary students.
Weather Morphology Activity


Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York, NY: The Guilford.

Boshart, Char. “Exploring Vocabulary Interventions and Activities From Preschool Through Adolescence”. . SpeechTherapyPD.com.

Robust is a must | The Informed SLP. (2023). Retrieved 19 March 2023, from https://www.theinformedslp.com/review/robust-is-a-must

Vocabulary intervention: Start here | The Informed SLP. (2023). Retrieved 19 March 2023, from https://www.theinformedslp.com/review/vocabulary-intervention-start-here

Vocabulary intervention for at-risk adolescents | The Informed SLP. (2023). Retrieved 19 March 2023, from https://www.theinformedslp.com/review/vocabulary-intervention-for-at-risk-adolescents

Speech Therapy Goals for Vocabulary and Semantics

Writing goals can be a tough task, but it is so important. Well-written goals and having a structured activity or interactive activity in mind can also be helpful for data collection.

Here are some vocabulary iep goals that a speech therapist might use to generate some ideas for a short-term goal! As a reminder, these are simply ideas. Think of this as an informal iep goal bank. A speech pathologist will modify as needed for an individual student!

Also, don’t hesitate to scroll back up to read about writing measurable goals (i.e. SMART goals). You will want to add information such as the level of accuracy, what types of cues (such as visual cues, or perhaps a verbal cue), and what level of cueing (i.e. minimal cues). Don’t forget how beneficial a graphic organizer can be while working on communication skills!

Vocabulary Goal Bank of Ideas

  • using a total communication approach (which may include but is not limited to a communication device, communication board, signing, pictures, gestures, words, or word approximations), Student will imitate single words or simple utterances containing core vocabulary in order to…. (choose a pragmatic function: request, request assistance, describe the location or direction of objects, describe an action, etc.)
  • using a total communication approach, generate simple sentences containing core vocabulary in order to… (choose a pragmatic function to finish the objective, such as direct the action of others, request, describe actions, etc.)
  • label common objects or pictured objects (nouns)
  • label pictured actions (verbs)
  • answer basic wh questions to demonstrate comprehension of basic concepts related to…. (location, quantity, quality, time)
  • generate semantically and syntactically correct spoken or written sentences for targeted tier II vocabulary words
  • use a target tier II vocabulary word in a novel spoken or written sentence
  • provide synonyms for targeted vocabulary words
  • provide antonyms for targeted vocabulary words
  • provide at least two definitions for multiple-meaning vocabulary words
  • provide a student-friendly definition for a targeted tier II vocabulary word (i.e. “explain in his own words”)
  • identify unfamiliar key words during a read-aloud or structured language activities
  • sort objects or pictured objects into piles based on the semantic feature (i.e. category, object function)
  • label the category for a named object or pictured object
  • state the object function (i.e. what it’s used for)
  • describe the appearance of a given item or pictured item
  • provide parts or associated parts for a named object or pictured object
  • complete analogies related to semantic features (i.e. based on category- dog is to animal as chair is to… furniture)
  • identify an item when provided with the category plus 1-2 additional semantic features
  • explain similarities and differences between targeted items/ objects
  • answer spoken or written questions related to temporal semantic relationships (i.e. time)
  • answer spoken or written questions related to spatial semantic relationships (i.e. location)
  • answer spoken or written questions related to comparative semantic relationships
  • complete spoken or written sentences using appropriate spatial, temporal, or comparative vocabulary
  • segment (or divide) words into morphological units (i.e. cats= cat / s)
  • create new words by adding prefixes or suffixes to the base
  • provide a definition for a targeted affix (prefix or suffix)
  • sort words into piles based on targeted affix (prefix or suffix)
  • finish a spoken or written analogy using targeted prefixes or suffixes (i.e. Regular is to irregular as responsible is to…)
  • provide the part of speech for a targeted tier II vocabulary word (i.e. label it is as verb, adjective, etc.)

5 Recommended Vocabulary Activities for Speech Therapy

Need some ready-to-go vocabulary activities for those busy days? Here are some recommendations for school speech-language pathologists.

  1. Semantic Relationships Speech Therapy Worksheets
  2. Describing Digital Task Cards
  3. Analogy Worksheets
  4. Weather-Themed Morphology Activities for Speech Therapy
  5. Prefix and Suffix Worksheets for Speech Therapy
These are prefex and suffix worksheets for speech therapy that speech therapists can use during therapy sessions.

More Speech Therapy Goal Ideas

Are you in a hurry and need this article summed up? To see the vocabulary goals, simply scroll up.

Next, make sure to try out these best-selling vocabulary resources:

  1. Semantic Relationships Speech Therapy Worksheets
  2. Describing Digital Task Cards
  3. Analogy Worksheets
  4. Weather-Themed Morphology Activities for Speech Therapy
  5. Prefix and Suffix Worksheets for Speech Therapy

Finally, don’t miss these grammar goals for speech therapy.

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