What is Speech & Language?
“Speech” can be thought of as verbal communication. It is the set of sounds that we make (using our voice and our articulators) that comprise syllables, words, and sentences. Speech alone carries no meaning; it is merely different sounds. There are three main components of speech:
- Articulation (how we make each sound)
- Voicing (using our vocal cords)
- Fluency (intonation and rhythm)
“Language” encompasses how we use speech to formulate sentences in order to communicate. Language also consists of three parts:
- Expressive (the words and sentences we produce)
- Receptive (what we understand) and
- Pragmatics (social communication of the rules of communication)
How to Encourage Speech and Language
Communicative Temptations: Create situation where the child needs to gesture, vocalize, or verbalize to have his or her needs met before giving desired object.
Imitation: Having a child imitate you helps him or her to produce words and sounds at appropriate times (i.e. saying “hi” to animal toys as you take them out of a box.)
Expanding: Using a child’s language and expanding it to make it more complex (i.e. child says “ball,” adult can say, “That is your ball!”)
Build Vocabulary: Target and explain relevant new words (i.e. seasonal words) to help build vocabulary.
Read aloud: Emphasize and reinforce new words, ask questions about the story while reading, ask child to retell the story (if age appropriate).
Ask questions: Posing questions about daily activities are a great way to encourage language skills, including naming and understanding functions.
Narrate everything: Modeling your own speech and language can increase exposure to correct production and enhance a child’s abilities.
By age 1, child cannot:
- Respond to his/her name
- Begin verbalizing first words
- No eye contact
By age 2, child cannot:
- Begin combining two-word phrases (24 months)
- Child does not consistently add new words to expressive vocabulary
- Child does not follow simple instructions
- Child presents with limited play skills
By age 3, child cannot:
- Verbalize utterances without repeating parts of words or prolonging sounds (i.e. “m-m-m-my mother,” “sssssssister”)
- Seem to find the right words, describe an item or event with difficulty
- Begin combining four to five-word utterances
- Be understood by both familiar and unfamiliar listeners
- Repeat themselves to clarify without frustration.
- Correctly produce vowels and majority of speech sounds (closer to age 5)
- Child does not ask or answer simple questions
- Child uses rote phrases and sentences
- Child prefers to play alone rather than with peers.