To print the lesson on learning about the 8 parts of speech in English grammar with examples for each one. Have you ever wondered if your child is saying all the sounds correctly they should be saying for their age, or thought about which sounds your child says incorrectly that makes them difficult to understand? Because it’s already time for “Back to School” (can you believe it?!) I would like to share my Articulation Screener with all of you so that you can have a free tool to use in helping you determine what sounds your kids say in error and whether those sounds are developmentally appropriate or delayed. For you tech loving parents with tech loving kids I have also created an Articulation Screener for the iPad called Articulation Quick Screener that is another a great tool for screening kids of all ages. All you need now is a copy of the screener, a pencil, your child and maybe a few reinforcements (mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, raisins or whatever will work to keep your kids interested). After you have tested all the words in the screener add up the total number of X’s (errors) you have in the boxes and put it on the line indicated for the total number of errors in the Age Approximation Box on the 3rd page of the screener.  By looking at where that number fits in the table (located below the total number of errors) you can get an idea of whether the number of speech errors present in the child’s speech are developmentally appropriate or if they indicate a delay.
You may also look back through the screener and see which sounds the child you have tested needs work on. When scoring correct or incorrect responses score only the targeted sound in the targeted sound position (as indicated by the colored box next to the word). Have reinforcements handy to keep the child interested and focused on completing the screener. If you feel you need to contact a speech language pathologist for further testing you can search ASHA’s (American Speech Language Hearing Association) website under “Find a Professional.” I hope this screener will help answer your questions about whether or not your son or daughter has a speech delay, what sounds they may need help with and whether or not it is time to seek professional guidance.
As an Australian student currently enrolled in a Master of Speech and Language Pathology program, your website is just fantastic!
I’ve found you blog very interesting and am working through the articulation screening tool with my 3 year old son. I’m glad this screener helped you identify the sounds your daughter is saying in error. Without interacting with your son personally I really couldn’t say how I would expect him to perform on the screener. I already have the screener bookmarked and look forward to going over it with my son in a few months and seeing how he’s progressing. I just used this with my four-year-old son, and was surprised to see how clearly it outlined the areas where he’s having trouble.
I finally got an iPad and wanted to let you know that at some recent iPad seminars everyone was RAVING about your artic app. Sometimes our kids that speak clearly at the word level but not in conversation get misdiagnosed as being okay because so many of our Articulation Assessments only test kids at the word level. If this doesn’t help and you still feel that he is struggling beyond what you can do to help him I would recommend you go back to the Speech Pathologist that tested him and express your concerns as you have to me and ask her for some guidance. Yes, the worksheets on mommy speech therapy can be used to help kids with phonological delays. This screener is to help you identify what sound or sounds your child may be having a hard time with in their speech. To summarize: We have had him evaluated by the school system 4 times over the last 2 years, both in our home and in the school.
Long story short (not really)…In my field (physical therapy), if someone is not squatting or running correctly, my treatment is not to have them do squats or go running as it will just strengthen the incorrect form they already use.
I am so sorry to hear about the difficulties and frustration you’ve experienced with trying to get intervention and services for your son.
Each blog post should include detailed tips for how to help your son achieve correct placement and how to get him to correctly elicit the sounds, as well as links to pdf files for practice target words. In that way, English grammar is like the branches of a tree, with new rules and concepts extending outward from previously learned principles.
As an understanding of English grammar is so dependent upon a solid understanding of its most basic rules, it is expected that students will review old concepts frequently throughout their education.
As children begin their formal education, the development of proper grammatical foundations is just as important as learning to read and write in English. As students begin to learn to read and write, they’re primed to learn how to categorize words. As students learn the difference between common and proper nouns and sentence structure, capitalization lessons can be added on. As children become familiar with reading and spelling out words, it’s a good time to introduce them to prefixes and suffixes – common components to the beginnings and endings of words that modify the original root word. While most native English speakers naturally pick up regular verb tenses, irregular verbs can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Beatles Pronouns Lesson Plan – Students learn about and identify pronouns using Beatles songs.
Grammar on the Go Lesson Plan – Students will use color to organize information as they identify the basic parts of speech in a reading passage. Teaching Conjunctions – Students watch the SchoolHouse Rock video “Conjunction Junction” and play a classroom game, creating sentences with conjunctions on index cards. Capitalization Lesson Plan – Students learn three rules of capitalization (capitalize the first word of a sentence, capitalize names, and capitalize the word “I”) as the teacher reads a story aloud and focuses on sentences that exemplify these rules. Loyola Press Scope and Sequence of Skills – A comprehensive guide to the English grammar skills appropriate for grade levels 1-3.
Turtle Diary Prefix and Suffix Online Games – a tutorial on prefixes and suffixes and a video game to reinforce the lesson and test the concepts. By the 3rd and 4th grade levels, students should have an English grammar foundation covering the basic parts of speech, sentence structure, proper capitalization, and article use. Native English speakers will often encounter words auditorily before reading or writing them.
Now that they’re beginning to write in paragraphs and pages, as opposed to words and sentences, students in grade levels 3-5 are ready for an introduction to dependent and independent clauses as well as simple, compound and complex sentences.
Parts of Speech Review Lesson Plan – Students review nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections and work together to create Parts of Speech Triangles. Teaching Grammar with Dance Lesson Plan – A video example of one teacher’s dance-based grammar lesson. Compound Complex Sentences Lesson Plan – Students use their reading comprehension skills to reorganize the plot summary of a short story from simple sentences into compound and complex sentences.
Prefix and Suffix Organizer Lesson Plan – A craft-oriented lesson plan designed to refresh students on prefixes and suffixes as they create their own notebook organizer for root words. Making New Words – A lesson plan designed to help students see prefixes and suffixes in action. Preposition Boogie Classroom Game – A modified version of “Simon Says” in which students respond only to prepositional phrases.
Houghton Mifflin Grammar Blast Online Quizzes – Students answer multiple choice grammar questions based on grade level. Grammar Gorilla – A simple online game that asks students to identify words within sentences that match a given part of speech. Grammar Ninja – An online game designed to help students enjoy identifying parts of speech. During the middle grades, students will spend a significant amount of time covering and practicing basic essay writing skills.
Students move beyond the “ly” adverbs to understand the concept of relative adverbs (words that describe where, when and why) and learn the rules and connotations behind the order of adverbs. Students are now ready for advanced level prefix and suffix vocabulary, as well as an understanding of Greek and Latin root words. By middle school, students should be able to edit their own and others’ written works, testing their across-the-board grammar skills. Colorful Parts of Speech – Students will review each part of speech with the teacher, assign a color to each part and underline words in a paragraph with colored pencil according to its part of speech. Teaching Pronouns in the Classroom – Students write an essay of only proper nouns and rewriting, replacing the nouns with pronouns. Keeping Verb Tense Consistent – Students develop paragraph writing skills and refresh verb tense comprehension by correcting pre-written paragraphs with inconsistent verb tenses.
Adverbs Mini-Lesson – Students complete an adverb worksheet and play a game called “Adverb Herd” in which students compose sentences from given verbs and adverbs and name adverbs that tell when, why, and how.
Every Day Edits – A collection of uncorrected paragraphs for daily grammar editing exercises. Sentence Diagramming Classroom Competitions – Students compete to see who can correctly diagram given sentences in the least amount of time.
Rooting Out Words – Players learn new root words and choose new vocabulary words from a multiple choice list based on a provided definition. Edit Dan’s Copy Online Game – Students help a virtual newscaster edit the copy for his report.
By high school, students are well familiar with the parts of speech and basic grammar rules. The concepts of perfect, progressive (or continuous) and perfect progressive verb tenses are introduced. Students previously learned about independent and dependent clauses and their relationship to sentence types. Phrases are word groupings, without verbs, that combine to act as more complex sentence subjects and objects. A Lesson in Proofing – Students and instructor brainstorm lists of common grammatical errors and methods to correct them, using “find” and “replace” tools in word processing software. Grand Grammar Online Game – In this one or two-player game, students choose questions from a Jeopardy-like board and fill in grammatically correct parts of speech. Grammar of Doom Online Game – This game requires students to complete grammar exercises in order to get to the secret in the Temple of Doomed Grammar.
Daily Grammar – This site contains more than 400 lessons and quizzes, covering every English grammar topic area.
TeacherVision Worksheets – Game-based worksheets with a quirky tone for teachers looking for a fun approach to grammar. Teachers Guide to Story Grammar for Elementary School – The online teacher’s guide is intended to accompany the student workbook. Help Teaching – A database of grammar practice test questions, organized by topic and grade level.
Unlike native speakers, non-native English speakers learn grammar rules as they’re learning the language. For example, native-English speaking children use the simple past tense long before they learn that it’s called the “past tense.” Non-native English speakers must learn the rules of the past tense in order to apply them in speech. Therefore, non-native speakers must take a different approach to English grammar rules and concepts. Below are lesson plans and online resources designed for non-native English speaking students and their instructors. Using English Lesson Plans – A collection of English grammar practice worksheets for non-native speakers, organized by topic.
Grammar Lesson Plans for English Learners – This lesson plan collection includes review games of grammar rules as well as plans designed to help non-native speakers get acquainted with the flow and cadence of the English language.
Common Writing Problems for Non-Native Speakers of English – A list of potential pitfalls for non-native students’ written English along with tutorials on correct grammar and phrasing.

Common Grammar Problems for Non-Native English Speakers – This guide covers potential problem areas, such as the subjunctive tense, pronoun cases, and homonyms along with sentence examples and further resource suggestions. Sentence Structure Guide Non-Native Speakers of English – Guide to simple, compound and complex sentences, complete with a quiz.
Order of Adjectives – A video resource guide for properly ordering adjectives in English sentences. Phrasal Verb Page – A collection of common English phrasal verbs, organized alphabetically. Talking Medicine – A brief overview of the specific grammar rules most important to the medical profession. Biomedical Editor – This site lists English grammar errors commonly found in science texts, such as missing antecedents and dangling modifiers and explains the concepts behind the proper rules.
Better-English Business Grammar Exercise List – This site provides English grammar-learning exercises in every area of speech, including advanced verb tenses and advanced pronoun types. University of Victoria English Language Centre – This is a perfect resource for any budding English language speaker who wants to practice and review concepts at home. Help Us Support Educators100% of our royalties from your Zazzle purchases goes toward helping us maintain & improve One of the best things I saw at South by Southwest wasn’t a movie but a speech—the keynote address delivered by the director Joe Swanberg. Richard Brody began writing for The New Yorker in 1999, and has contributed articles about the directors Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Samuel Fuller.
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I intentionally designed this screener to be simple and easy to use for both parents and SLPs. In the header of each of the sound boxes you will find the age at which most children have mastered that sound. The red scoring box indicates that we are testing the sound in the initial position of the word.
Place the first page of images in front of the child you are testing then refer to the first sound box on the screener (the P Sound). Ask the child, “What is that?” If the child doesn’t know the word say, “I call it an apple, what do I call it?” Following up the prompt with the question, “What do I call it?” insures the child doesn’t say the word in direct imitation of you.
This indicates that the same word will be used to test different sounds that appear later in the screener.
You may see that there are certain sounds the child cannot say at all, or you may find that the child is not saying multiple sounds in a certain sound position.
You may also be interested in reading, “The Process of Articulation Therapy” for an outline of how to get started once you have determined your goals.
She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Your worksheets are particularly inspirational for someone just beginning their SLP career! However, I can say confidently that I would expect a delay given the brief history you have shared with me. Just keep doing what you are doing and I am sure before long you will look back and be amazed at how far he has come. I have not included the exact ages of mastery since the age varies depending on the position of the word the sound is said in.
It is how you use them though that makes the difference since phonological delays are treated differently than articulation delays and these worksheets were created specifically fro articulation delays.
You’ll want to make sure that in your search for an SLP in your area that you are looking for a certified professional.
It’s important to look at the errors that your child makes with the words on the screener and determine if those are sounds they should be saying at their age, or if the errors are age-appropriate. Yet, all the advice I have been given is to make my son say the sounds over and over – ineffective and makes my son upset (because he knows).
To answer your question upfront, we have many resources available on this website that will help you elicit these sounds from your son. If a child meets the definition of having a disability (in this case, a speech-language impairment) for the state, then service should be provided regardless of the child’s socioeconomic status. As a subject of study, it’s more deep than broad: students in the early grades learn a basic overview of the parts of speech and sentence types, and as they advance in grade level, older concepts are broken into more complex systems. These early grades focus on the the more tangible parts of speech, such as nouns (people, places, things), verbs (action words), adjectives (descriptors) and pronouns (words that take the place of a noun).
As they begin to write complete sentences, students should learn to capitalize the first word. For example, a child at this grade level may say she “drawed” a picture, instead of that she “drew” a picture. Grades 3-5 expand on that foundation, reinforcing the lessons of earlier grades and diving deeper into word types and uses.
Grades 3-5 continue to reinforce understanding of the eight parts of speech, as students take a deeper dive into the parts of speech with which they’re already familiar. Students will also review the simple conjugation of regular verbs (I look, he looks, you look) and irregular verbs (I am, he is, you are). As their vocabularies expand, students will begin to run across words that sound the same, but are spelled differently (“witch” versus “which,” for example). Students will also learn proper punctuation to break up compound and complex sentences, including the use of the semicolon. The grammar lessons from earlier grades are reinforced through essay writing and editing, and students begin to see the rules of grammar take shape in the big picture of the English language. The concept of relative pronouns is also introduced, giving students a foundation for understanding relative clauses. The meanings of Greek and Latin-based prefixes and suffixes are used as clues to the meanings of more complex English words. While proofreading can be covered in units, it’s a skill that’s best developed through daily practice. This activity can also lead to a discussion of when pronouns are useful, versus when they can confuse readers and listeners. They’re now ready for a thorough English grammar review, including the more advanced components of the English language, such as perfect and progressive verb tenses and relative clauses. While native English speaking students have been using these tenses for years, the ideas of these tenses can be a difficult concept to grasp.
Students are ready to learn the types of dependent clauses, including adjective (or relative) clauses, adverb (or subordinate clauses) and noun clauses. Students will expand upon their middle school lessons on simpler direct and indirect objects as a basis for understanding the various uses of phrases. To add a grammar component, have students swap essays with one another and proof each others’ writing for grammatical errors. The lessons are numbered, beginning with simple concepts and move on to more advanced grammar once the basics are mastered. Even on its own, the guide provides lesson plans, teaching points and examples for dozens of sentence components. International students with interests in medicine, law, or business will find field-specific resources as well. The site includes lessons nouns, verbs, causatives, articles, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, etc, all organized into levels of difficulty. Your California Privacy Rights The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Everyone who signs up gets full access to our entire library, including our curated collections.
Our Standard license allows you to use images for anything, except large print runs over 500,000+ or for merchandising. Once you have downloaded your image, you have life-long rights to use it under the terms of the license purchased. You can click on the printer icon just below and to the right of the contact us menu button at the top of the page or copy and paste the part of the exercise you want onto a word document and then print onto some paper.
Articulation Screeners are used by speech language pathologists to quickly determine which sounds children can or cannot say.
With this screener you will be able to test the consonant sounds and consonant blends in the English language.
You will also find a target word with that sound in it in the initial position (beginning of the word), a target word with that sound in the medial position (middle of the word) and a target word with that sound in the final position (end of the word). The blue scoring box indicates we are testing the sound in the medial position of the word. Often times a child can say a word more clearly in direct imitation than they can say it in spontaneous speech. If you need tips on how to teach specific sounds you can find them here on Mommy Speech Therapy among my posts on how to teach specific sounds. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. His articulation is improving, but I’m curious where you would expect him to be in his score on the screening test.
After looking at your worksheets I think I can create something similar on those sounds (although not as pretty!) to help her. How long it will take him to catch up to the kids his age is also difficult to predict without knowing him and knowing the treatment plan you have set up for him. I’m currently staying at home with my almost two-year old and with my free time have been creating a website for new speech therapists (as well as parents and teachers) that offers product ideas, best websites, resources etc. It means, like you said, that the sound is typically mastered sometime between 24-35 months. Even still the exact age of mastery is highly variable depending on which research study you are referring to. You can look at the sounds that are said in error, then have the client say other words with the same sound in the same position to see if they are successful.
I would talk with your speech pathologist to see what sounds and what sound positions they are targeting for the week since they will typically change the sounds they are targeting more frequently than they do for kids with articulation delays. If you find that your child cannot say some sounds in words that they should be able to say based on their age, I would recommend having her evaluated by a certified speech-language pathologist (SLP).
Our daycare providers (who are wonderful) first noticed it and recommended we speak to our pediatrician and call the school for evaluation at the age of 2.5.
This is a basic tenant of the federally mandated special education law, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Now that they’re reading and writing full sentences, students can begin to learn and memorize irregular English verbs along with their proper past tenses.

Students will develop these skills through explicit grammar lessons (often taught around the 9th grade level), and more indirectly, through essay writing. Grade and middle school lessons on prepositions will be reinforced as well, as students study prepositional phrases.
Its form was autobiographical: Swanberg, whose career started at SXSW when the festival showed his first feature, “Kissing on the Mouth,” in 2005, took the audience through his work, film by film and stage by stage, making specific and revealing references to what his movies cost to make, how he got the money, how much money he made from them, and, over all, what he has done in order to make a living from movies while, at the same time, pursuing his art with the sense of freedom that he considers essential. If at any time you're unsatisfied with your experience with us, you can cancel your subscription. They are also used to determine if the speech errors the child says are developmentally appropriate or if they are delayed. Each of these target words are important because they help us determine if the target sound is said accurately in all word positions. The green scoring box indicates we are testing the sound in the final position of the word. That is why to accurately understand which sounds they can or cannot say we should avoid direct imitation of the target words. You can also find worksheets for practicing sounds on my worksheets page or you can download Articulation Station on your iPad for lots of fun, interactive activities for teaching articulation in all 22 sound programs. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. I’d love to make some of my own using a similar style of graphics to those you use- they’re so easy to understand and children love them!
If they are not successful you may try to quickly teach the correct placement of the sound to see if they are stimulable for that sound.
However, not being familiar with your son and his speech and language skills I cannot say whether he is an appropriate candidate for speech therapy or not. If you need tips on how to work on specific sounds at home you can find them here on Mommy Speech Therapy among our posts on how to teach specific sounds. With the resistance we have received, we decided to go out of state for formal evaluation and instruction on how to help him ourselves. I would contact your state education agency to get more information about how a child qualifies for services in your state. Articulation Screeners are not standardized and so they are only used as a reference for therapists, they are not used to determine eligibility for services. To save time you may score these words that appear multiple times, at the same time, or just have the child repeat the word again when you get to that word later in the screener. I prefer this set of norms because they are based on the most recent research that I am aware of in sound acquisition. I’ve spent many hours recently looking online at charts, etc., and your site is phenomenal! I would just recommend you repeat back to him what he just said providing him with a correct model of how to say the word.
I can tell you that he should be 50 – 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener, meaning people who are not familiar with him should understand more than half of what he says. He is a superb student, gets along well socially; however, this has started to become a hindrance. If “mandatory” weren’t a word to make any vigorous-minded artist kick, I’d say that it should be mandatory viewing for everyone in film school and even anyone who is contemplating applying. When the sound is said incorrectly you may want to write how the word was said incorrectly. He is developing, and I just printed your Articulation Screener and look forward to doing it with him. I can also tell you that leaving the final sounds of the end of words is a common pattern children under 3 use to simplify speech while they are learning to talk. An SLP should be able to provide tips and exercises in helping to reduce the tongue thrust, and tips for helping with the lisp. He has refused to write a prescription because our son has no brain injury or mental delays.
For example if instead of saying “piano” the child said “ano,” we would write “ano” on the line next to the word. Honestly, I just would love to go back to relaxing and quite frankly ENJOYING his adorable mispronunciations (while of course gently modeling correct speech), since so soon he’ll most likely be past them. In Articulation Station you can target specific sounds at the sentence and story levels in 4 different activities.
Also, because your son has a tongue thrust it might be worth consulting your dentist to see if there is anything they provide for help in reducing tongue thrust.
Of course, there are many things that film school is good for—it’s a place and a chance to spend four years thinking about movies, watching movies, and practicing making movies. I am about to cry I am so grateful and pleased with your professional, grounded, and helpful information. When he has mastered these activities I would recommend you sit down with him everyday while he is working on his reading and have him read aloud to you. If they don’t have a specific set of words and they are just targeting a specific sound in a specific position than you can use the worksheets here on mommy speech therapy. I would also tell you that if the sounds you mentioned above are the only sounds he struggles with you need not be too concerned since those sound errors would be considered developmentally appropriate for his age.
It’s also a place to meet other people with a similar passion, people at a similar age and stage of life who are likely to become one’s first, and perhaps crucial and enduring, collaborators. It turns out that even these film-school experiences are encapsulated in Swanberg’s keynote.
When he misses a sound in a word stop him and have him repeat the sentence saying the word correctly. That doesn’t mean that he has made the very best single movie of the times (though several of his films are high on my list for the past decade) but that his ideas about filmmaking are the most powerful, influential, transformative, and exemplary ones of the times. Even though he’s not an academic or a critic, Swanberg is the crucial film theorist of the new century.
His ideas are embodied and discernible in his movies, but his speech at SXSW last week joins the lucidity of his experience with the visionary force of a manifesto. From the start of his career, Swanberg has pursued a distinctive aesthetic world of his own invention. Though the basic idea of “Kissing on the Mouth,” a tale of young couples dissolving and forming (which he made at twenty-three, with virtually no crew and with his friends as actors), isn’t amazingly original, the filmmaker’s approach rings, immediately, with his stylistic distinctiveness.
Whether it’s filming conversations in tight yet agile close-ups that veer toward a sort of impressionism, desynchronizing dialogue with action, intercutting different spheres of action in a kind of psychological collage, or mixing documentary-style audio interviews onto the soundtrack as an ongoing counterpoint to the action, Swanberg appears free of cinematic conventions of naturalistic representation—even as he films something like daily life, his own and that of his collaborators, frankly and intimately. He films improvisationally, letting action and dialogue develop from the film’s situations. Looking unstintingly at the romantic and erotic lives and desires of college students and recent graduates, he depicts sex and bodies explicitly but not pruriently, and he casts himself in the role of the artist who does the audio interviews, integrating the terms and subjects of his artistry into the work itself. Above all, starting with his first film, Swanberg told a story derived from the life he was living at the time that he was living it, and the originality of his artistic methods are a matter of the conditions of the filming—and of his way of life—rather than the product of preconceptions. Just as his movies are notable for their unity of personal experience and artistic creation, of his working methods and his aesthetic ideas, his idea of filmmaking can’t be dissociated from its financial and social terms. Swanberg’s importance as a filmmaker is to demonstrate that originality in direction is secondary to originality in production—that a rethinking of the material conditions of making films is, for an independent filmmaker, a more decisive break with the styles and modes of the industry at large than is a particular focus on one’s own artistic intentions.
Discovering original ways to make do with the means at hand is, for a creative artist, itself a hallmark of art. Swanberg’s aesthetic freedom and spontaneity, as he details in his remarks, arise from his confrontation with the need to make a living at filmmaking, with the difficulty of finding money to make films. His drastic and decisive reconfiguration of the practical and organizational conditions of movie-making has been the key cinematic discovery of the past decade.
He explained that “Kissing on the Mouth” cost three thousand dollars to make—and, because the DVD market was still thriving, he was able to sell it to a small distributor and, with no theatrical release but the purchases of six hundred copies both by Netflix and Barnes and Noble, he was able to turn a small profit. Nonetheless, despite its SXSW premiere, the film was rejected from all the other festivals to which Swanberg applied. His response was “just to want to make another movie” and the next one, “LOL,” an even more aesthetically daring work, played at SXSW and also sold for DVD rights.
He met a producer there who helped him make his next film, “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” on a much larger budget—sixty thousand dollars. He rented an apartment, got his actors together, and had them live together for a month, building the personal relationships and sparking the creative ferment that gave rise to that film’s imaginative power. Around that time, he met the filmmaker Adam Wingard, from Birmingham, Alabama, who asked him to play a role in a four-segment feature, telling him that his segment would be shot in one day. Swanberg admits to taking the role in part to learn from Wingard (who would later become one of his cinematographers) how to film so rapidly. So when Swanberg’s income stream was drying up, he got an idea that was simultaneously financial and artistic: I had to make a lot of movies, because one of them was not going to support me, but maybe seven of them would support me. And also because I was so high on the idea that you could make work that fast, because I make improvised movies, and a lot of the spirit of these movies is attempting to capture moments in people’s lives. A month is a long time to keep someone in their head and keep a performer self-conscious and committed to a role.
If we could condense this window down to four or five or six days, we really could just live the movie in a way that, I was finding, was getting really interesting performances out of the actors and, for me as a filmmaker, was really keeping me on my toes, keeping me sharp and focussed.
And what’s crazy about that is, from the moment I set foot in film school, the one thing I heard over and over is, don’t pay for your own movies, don’t do it, don’t finance your own stuff, get other people to pay for it, and just get paid to make it.
Swanberg’s goal, he says, isn’t great wealth but artistic independence—the ability to be able to go on making films as he sees fit, while also making a living. But, of course, there’s a twist, and it’s the one thing that he doesn’t mention: the element of imagination, of inspiration. Rather than imagining specific stories for films that required some more distant and complex organization, that required travel, specific actors, settings, effects, or crowds, Swanberg has made movies that relate clearly to the specific circumstances of his own life—but his discovery of drama within those circumstances has been nothing less than prodigious.
Everyone has lots of stories; lives proliferate stories, as is proven by most of our conversations. Whatever we tell our friends and relatives and colleagues, whatever we think about our relationships and our work, is a virtual screenplay that, in a thoughtful telling, would fill out a feature film with ease.
Swanberg is a prolific filmmaker because he recognizes and extracts the drama from what’s nearest at hand. His keynote speech is a perfect example: speaking extemporaneously, he delivers his words with an almost shockingly plain sincerity, distilling thrills, highs and lows, psychological strategizing and practical action, from the potentially dry terms of the financial conditions of his filmmaking.
His speech about the making of his first seventeen feature films also contains the stuff of dozens more.
Everyone has stories, everyone has a life; but finding the art in it is the one thing that can’t be taught.

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