2. Simplified Language

When do you need simplified language?


  • Simplified language is needed in situations where one participant’s ability to communicate is significantly weaker than the other’s.
  • Simplified language enables someone without good language skills to take part in conversation and become a full member of a community.

Simplified language is…

  • easy to understand

  • clear and simplified spoken or written language

  • structurally uncomplicated

  • adapted to the recipient’s language skills

  • easier than common language

  • not ambiguous

How to write a text in simplified language


  • use familiar and common words and expressions

  • avoid slang, dialect, work jargon, symbolic and abstract expressions

  • explain any difficult word you have to use

  • use short sentences

  • avoid difficult grammatical structures

  • avoid metaphors

  • proceed logically in your writing

  • avoid changes when indicating place and time

How to speak simplified language

  • speak about one subject at a time

  • speak as short and systematically as possible

  • take the language level of the person you are talking to into account

  • do not speak as to a child, if you are talking to an adult

  • don’t use slang or dialect

  • when speaking about place and time or cause and consequence make
    sure that you are understood

  • ask checkup questions

  • use familiar, everyday words

  • if you need to use difficult, abstract words, expressions or metaphors,
    explain them

  • explain acronyms

  • enhance the core words

  • use correct technical terms

  • pause before a new subject

  • speak slowly, but not unnaturally or exaggeratedly

  • give time to listen, understand and ask questions

  • use facial expressions, gestures, appropriate accent and tone of voice
    (do not exaggerate)

  • draw or show pictures and point at objects, if possible

  • do not panic if you are not immediately understood
    (give the person time to get used to your way of speaking and vice versa)

  • show that you really want to understand and it is important to you that you
    are understood, as well

  • don’t hesitate to look up difficult words in a dictionary 


Example 1: Dialogue during baking class


Teacher: You still need to add some sugar.

Student: Sorry?

Teacher: Add some sugar.

Student: Add?

Teacher: Yes, add - put more sugar.

Student: Extra sugar?

Teacher: Yes, that’s right.

Example 2: Dialogue about explaining an idiom


The grass is always greener on the other side

Student: I’d love to live in Helsinki, because it has everything and it is so much nicer to live there.

Teacher: Well, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Student: What grass? Where?

Teacher: Well, it is an expression. It means that things always seem better somewhere else, like a place you cannot go.

Example 3: Dialogue about time confusion

Teacher:  Ok, tomorrow you are going to have a shorter day, since yesterday we were here until 6 pm. And make sure you do this exercise by the day after tomorrow since we are going to go through it then. Is this clear?

Students: Yes……… So may we go now?

Teacher: No, of course not. We will finish at four.

Student: Not at two o’clock?

Teacher: Today we will finish at four o’clock. So today is a normal day. Tomorrow we will finish at two o’clock because we had a longer day yesterday. Ok?

Students: And the exercise?

Teacher: The exercise has to be ready the day after tomorrow, which is Thursday.

Example 4: How to say it differently

Instead of:

"In case you happen to see my misplaced, blue-covered and oh, so hackneyed book, I’d be ever so grateful if you could return it back into my possession."

It is better to say:

"I have lost my book. It is old and blue. Please bring it to me if you see it."

Example 5: Chocolate chip cookies

Common language

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Preheat oven to 190 degrees C with rack in centre of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the white, vanilla and brown sugars and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated, adding the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) about half way through mixing. If you find the dough very soft, cover and refrigerate until firm (from 30 minutes to two hours).

For large cookies, use about a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop or with two spoons, drop about 2 tablespoons of dough (35 grams) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 10 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen - 3 inch round cookies


Simplified language


Chocolate Chip Cookies (about 50 cookies)

1. Preheat the oven (190 degrees C)

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Beat the butter in a bowl until it is smooth and creamy.

4. Add white sugar, vanilla sugar and brown sugar and beat until it is fluffy (2 minutes).

5. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well.

6. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.

7. Add the mixture of flour, baking soda and salt into the egg mixture.
Stir well.

8. Add the chocolate chips (and nuts). If the dough is very soft,
put it in the fridge (30 minutes - 2 hours).

9. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet.

10. Bake 10 - 14 minutes.

11. The cookies are golden brown when they are ready.

13. Cool the cookies before eating .