34 SLP Approved Receptive Language Speech Therapy Goals

Need some receptive language goals for speech therapy? Feeling a little bit stuck? If you are a speech therapist looking for some goal ideas to get you started for writing that IEP or report, check out this blog post! A child’s receptive language skills are very important. This article explains the definition of receptive language. It also explains why receptive language skills are important to address. There are also suggested visual prompts that can be used in speech therapy, as well as a goal bank for receptive language speech therapy goals that should be modified for each individual student. This goal bank can provide a starting point for writing more specific goals for an individual student. It can help get the ideas flowing. Speech-language pathologists should make sure to bookmark this post to reference it again and again! 

This blog post provides a goal bank for receptive language goals for speech therapy. It is written for speech language pathologists.

​What is Receptive Language?

Receptive language is the ability to understand and comprehend spoken or written language. Therefore, a receptive language disorder involves difficulty with understanding and comprehending spoken and written language. Receptive and expressive language disorders are diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist.

Expressive language, on the other hand, is the ability to use spoken or written language. This allows one to communicate their thoughts, needs, ideas, and emotions. 

Why are Receptive Language Skills Important?

Receptive language skills are very important. Receptive language skills can impact a child’s ability to follow directions, learn new vocabulary and different words, read and learn new information, and participate in conversations. Therefore, receptive language skills are both important for academic reasons as well as social interaction. 

34 receptive language goals for speech therapy: this is a goal bank of ideas for speech language pathologists

What Does a Receptive Language Delay “Look Like”?

Children with receptive language difficulties may have trouble understanding what is said. Because of this, tasks such as following directions, understanding new words and concepts, and understanding complex language (such as figurative language) may be challenging for them. 

According to research, ‘receptive language forms the foundation for competent expressive language‘ (Muller and Brady, 2016).  Receptive language skills are important for overall language development.

Visual Prompts for Speech Therapy

Visual prompts may be very useful when targeting receptive language goals in speech therapy, such as when answering wh questions. Effective visual picture icons could be used to help students answer specific types of wh questions. For example, a picture of a calendar or a clock might be used when answering ‘when’ questions. A calendar showing the days of the week or the months of the year could be useful when targeting semantic relationships. Students may also benefit from having visuals that show picture-supported answer choices. Using a familiar visual during a therapy session may remind a student of how to answer a specific wh question.

This semantic relationship worksheet for speech therapy also has a visual prompt page.

Goal Writing Using a S.M.A.R.T. Framework

The  SMART framework is useful for writing specific and measurable IEP goals. SLPs may wish to take a ceu course that discusses writing SMART goals, especially if working in a school setting. 

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Related
  • Time-Bound

In the school setting, goals should be achieved within the time period of the IEP. SLPs might write goals that they wish the student to accomplish in a set number of consecutive sessions. 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/.

Speech Therapy Goals for Receptive Language

While goal writing is not easy, it is certainly important! Speech therapy goals are always individualized, and based on a child’s needs. This could mean that some objectives may be written for a communication board or voice-output device. Receptive goals may also address areas such as understanding receptive vocabulary and identifying temporal concepts. 

I do write following directions goals, but I like to make it functional and tie it to learning concepts.

Here are some receptive language iep goals that a speech therapist might use to generate some ideas for a short-term goal! Let’s not forget, these are simply ideas. Think of this as an informal iep goal bank. A speech pathologist will modify as needed for an individual student!

Please note, you can scroll up to learn more about the S.M.A.R.T. goal writing format. A speech language pathologist will want to add information such as the level of accuracy, the types of cues (verbal cues, visual cues, or other multisensory cues) or prompts (i.e. verbal prompts), and provide the level of cueing required (i.e. minimal cues, moderate cues). 

As a reminder, a prompt is more direct and specific (“point to the ball”). It helps the child complete the task or activity. A cue is more of a hint (“What is the ball doing?”). It helps the child remember what to do.

Prelinguistic Skills

Prelinguistic skills should also be considered when creating speech-language therapy goals. The speech pathologist may write objectives for joint attention (both initiating joint attention and responding to bids for joint attention), turn-taking during simple social games and activities (i.e. peek-a-boo, rolling a ball back and forth), imitating sounds, and imitating actions and gestures.

Goal Bank of Receptive Language Goals for Speech Therapy

Here is a goal bank of ideas that speech pathologists might find helpful when brainstorming receptive language goals. There are many different ways to reword an objective to tailor it to your student’s individual needs. Goals may be addressed both in individual sessions or when working in a small group. Receptive language speech therapy goals may also be targeted during a structured activity or during a more play-based, child-led activity. This is very common when working with young children.

  • identify a common object or a picture of an object when named
  • identify a familiar communication partner (peer, teacher) when named (i.e turn towards them, look at them)
  • identify a (real) common action or a pictured action when named
  •  correctly identify action words (verbs) when presented with visual stimuli 
  • identify basic body parts (i.e. nose, ears, mouth) on self or a picture card when named
  • follow simple one step directions (could add detail, such as “containing embedded basic concepts, such as size, shape, color”)
  • follow 1 or 2-step directions containing descriptors or modifying words (i.e. red ball) 
  • follow 2-step directions (could include specific concepts, such as “containing temporal and sequential concepts”)
  • follow multi-step directions containing conditional words (i.e. If…then)
  • answer basic wh questions to demonstrate comprehension of basic concepts 
  • answer basic wh questions or yes/ no questions following a short story (could add: using a total communication approach, such as a communication board or communication device)
  • correctly sort objects/ pictured objects into the different categories
  • answer questions (i.e. “what” and “where”) about a picture or during an activity
  • answer basic “what doing” questions
  • answer “what” questions related to object function (i.e. What do you use a spoon for?)
  • answer “where” questions related to location / spatial concepts (i.e. under, over, on, off)
  • answer a wh question related to a picture scene
  • point to a picture or objects to identify basic spatial concepts (i.e. on/off, up/down)
  • point to a picture to identify basic temporal concepts (i.e. before/ after)
  • identify an item when provided with the category
  • when provided with a given category, identify 3 pictures that belong in that category
  • identify parts or associated parts for an item or pictured item
  • choose the correct part of speech for a targeted tier II vocabulary word (i.e. noun, verb, adjective, etc.) when provided with a field of 3 possible answer choices
  • identify the main idea of a picture
  • will identify the main idea of a paragraph
  • identify the main idea of a passage or text
  • correctly choose the sentence that explains the main idea of a passage in a field of 3 answer choices
  • after listening to a short story, the student will identify story elements (including characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution)
  • the student will identify examples of figurative language (i.e. idioms, metaphors) after listening to a short passage or story
  • will identify the meaning of figurative language (i.e. idioms, metaphors) after listening to a short passage or story
  • identify parts of speech or sentence parts within sentences (i.e. relative clause)
  • sort words by grammatical part of speech (i.e. noun vs verb, adjective vs adverb)
  • select an appropriate conjunction (i.e. subordinating conjunction) to complete a sentence during a spoken or written sentence fill-in task
  • answer spoken or written semantic relationship questions that target (spatial, temporal, sequential, or comparative) relationships

Receptive Language Ideas for Semantic Relationships

Concepts such as location, direction, time, serial order, and passive voice can be very challenging for our students to comprehend. This blog post explains how I work on semantic relationships in speech therapy. Try using these semantic relationship worksheets in speech therapy to target expressive and receptive language goals related to semantic relationships. 

Receptive Language Goals for Following Complex Directions

In this blog post, I provide detailed ideas for following complex directions. This can be a difficult task, and this blog post is especially useful for older children with language delays, such as upper elementary students or middle school students.  This following complex directions resource will be a hit (and a challenge) in your speech therapy room!

this is a following complex directions activity for receptive language speech therapy

Speech Therapy Goals for Vocabulary

Looking for even more specific objectives that focus on vocabulary intervention? No problem! Check out these vocabulary goals for speech therapy! This article provides a goal bank of ideas for vocabulary and also lists vocabulary strategies for intervention. Speech therapists will have a “where to start” guide for vocabulary instruction, and there are also links to 5 recommended vocabulary activities for speech therapy. Students will encounter vocabulary within a variety of text, so vocabulary instruction and intervention is essential for academic success. 

If your student is using a total communication approach (which may include signs, gestures, words or word approximations, communication boards, mid-tech AAC, or voice-output devices), check out this get-started guide for using core vocabulary during your speech therapy session.

Grammar Speech Therapy Goals

Need ideas for grammar speech therapy goals? This article is definitely worth checking out! Grammar and syntax can have an impact on reading comprehension. Read this blog post to see how I write grammar goals for younger children and school-age children. In addition, this grammar goals blog post provides a review of the areas of grammar, grammatical parts of speech, a verb tense review, and a review of conjunctions for SLPs. Check out the pictured grammar and sentence structure resource here.

This is a comprehension grammar and sentence structure program for speech therapy- it targets identifying parts of speech (receptive language goals).


In summary, this article provides a variety of receptive language goals speech therapy suggestions. Receptive and expressive language skills are important to address in speech therapy, and SLPs may be looking for a short or long-term goal bank for ideas. These ideas should be tailored to individual students to meet specific needs. The S.M.A.R.T. goal framework is a helpful framework for writing iep goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, related, and time-bound. 

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