SPICE vs. SPICE for Life: What’s the difference?

The Speech Perception Instructional Curriculum and Evaluation (SPICE) and SPICE for Life are widely-used and highly acclaimed auditory training curricula. Both are research-based tools designed to support professionals working with children to develop listening and spoken language skills. Several notable differences exist between the two that are important for professionals to recognize.

The SPICE supports the development of foundational auditory skills and targets:

  • Detection of speech
  • Suprasegmental perception
  • Vowel and consonant perception
  • Comprehension of connected speech

The SPICE for Life expands on these skills and focuses on real-life listening:

  • Improving auditory memory
  • Listening to music
  • Listening in noisy settings
  • Identifying environmental sounds
  • Listening during conversation
  • Localizing sounds
  • Listening to voices
  • Listening to technology

Although these curricula are quite different from each other, choosing which one to use with students isn’t always so clear. Below are answers to scenarios we often hear when contemplating the question, “Should I purchase the SPICE or SPICE for Life?”

  • I just received a newly implanted 8-year-old student on my caseload. According to the age recommendations, I should use SPICE for Life. Is that correct?

Although the SPICE curriculum suggests that it be used with students ages 2-12, and the SPICE for Life recommends ages 5-12, these are rough guidelines. It’s best to base your decision on the individual student. One factor to consider is how long have they been using their device(s). Although this student is within the recommended SPICE for Life age group, he would need to start with SPICE in order to establish consistent foundational listening skills using his cochlear implant before moving on to the more challenging skills offered by SPICE for Life.

  • I have a student who has not yet mastered every skill on SPICE, but I feel like he could do some parts of SPICE for Life. Can I start on SPICE for Life before all of the SPICE curriculum is mastered?

Yes, SPICE and SPICE for Life can be worked on in tandem, but when choosing skills to target it’s important to consider the child’s language level. For example, some of the skills addressed in the SPICE for Life require the student to be able to repeat a series of words, understand and label higher level vocabulary (ex: musical instruments, environmental sounds, emotions) and engage in conversation. As you make the decision on which to use, ensure that the skills you target (on either curricula) measure the child’s listening skills and not their language ability.

If you have questions about which curricula to purchase, please contact us at profesionaldevelopment@cid.edu. We’d love to help you!


Jessica Klein, MS, CCC-SLP, began working as a speech-language pathologist at CID in 2004, assessing and treating children from birth to age 12. Klein co-wrote the “Targeting Speech Skills for Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing” workshop, presenting annually at CID as well as at Southeast Missouri State University and the Missouri Speech and Hearing Association conference. In 2011, she accepted a job as a speech-language pathologist at a St. Louis charter school. While in the public school setting, Klein assessed and provided services to students with varying speech and language needs. She was a member of the school’s CARE team, collaborating with teachers and specialists to develop interventions for students struggling in the classroom. In 2015, she returned to CID ready to share her public school experiences with colleagues to help better prepare CID students for mainstream settings. Since her return, she has written a webinar about developing literacy skills in children who are deaf and hard of hearing as well as spoken about literacy skills and case managing students who are deaf and hard of hearing at Fontbonne University. She became associate coordinator of the CID Emerson Center for Professional Development in 2017.

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