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Ms. Whitcomb

Ms. Whitcomb

Wisdom Lane Middle School: (516) 434-7300 | Gardiners Elementary School: (516) 434-7450

Ms. Whitcomb : Expressive Language

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Expressive Language

What is speech (expressive language)?

Using speech (also known as expressive language) is the use of words, sentences, gestures and writing to convey meaning and messages to others. Speech (expressive language) skills include:

1.    Being able to label objects in the environment

2.   Describe actions and events

3.    Put words together in sentences

4.   Use grammar correctly (e.g. “I had a drink” not “Me drinked”),

5.   Retell a story

6.   Answer questions  

7.   Write short stories​

 5 components of expressive language:


  1. 1     Phonology is the sound system of our language and the rules for combining sounds in words. For example, phonology governs that ‘ng’ does not come at the beginning of words but may be found in the middle or end of words like ‘finger’ and ‘wing’.

    2. Morphology refers to the rules for creating words and word forms. This includes morphemes and linguistic units of language such as suffixes, prefixes, and roots. A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of speech and may include whole words or grammatical markers. For example, the word ‘cat’ is one morpheme but the word ‘cats’ has two morphemes. The ‘s’ morpheme results in ‘cats’ (plural) having a different meaning than the word ‘cat’ (singular).

    3.   Syntax refers to the rules of grammar and sentence structure. It is what governs the word order of sentences and structures within sentences. For example, it is because of syntax that we state “I see a big, brown dog” rather than “A big, brown dog I see”.

    4.   Semantics refers to the content of our language, or the meaning. Another term for this is vocabulary. In regards to expressive language, semantics is the variety of words one produces.

    5.   Pragmatics refers to the social and functional use of language. It is the difference between stating “Give me that pencil!” and “Can I please have that pencil?” Pragmatics is the ability to use the language components (phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics) in a socially appropriate manner. 

What can be done to improve expressive language (using words and language)?

·         Play: ·For the young child engage in play with the child on a regular basis, model how to play with toys, follow the child’s lead and talk about what they are doing with the toys..

·         Talk to the child often throughout the day about what you are doing, where you are going, what you are going to do, what you have just done.

·         Turn off background noise in the home (e.g. television, radio, music).

·         Face-to-face: Get face to face with the child when talking so that the child can watch your mouth to imitate how to produce words.

·         Expand the language the child is using by repeating what they are saying and adding one or two more words to their utterance (·e.g. child: “Dog”;adult: “A big dog”).

·         Books: Look at books together that the child is interested in and talk about the pictures and/or the story.

·         Model ·back to the child utterances that they have said incorrectly in the correct way (e.g. child: “Me want that one”; adult: “I want red apple please”).


What activities can help improve expressive language?

·         Name items together when looking at a book, in the car, looking outside, in play, while they are playing, whilst shopping.

·         Choice-making: Offer the child choices so that they are encouraged to use words to make a request rather than relying on gesture.

·         Day-to-day activities: Engage in lots of “day-to-day” activities (e.g. going shopping, to the park, to the zoo, to the museum) then talk about/draw/act out what you did and saw.

·         Play something together that the child really enjoys and throughout the game model new words and phrases.

·         Look at books together and talk about what you see.

·         Ask questions about what is happening in a story and why it is occurring.

·         Sing songs together.

·         Use pictures/drawings/photos to make a book or sequence of events and make up a story about the pictures.

·         Read stories to help model correct use of language.

·         Write letters to friends.

·         Pictures: Talk together about a picture and then write down what you said.