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:
able to label objects in the environment
actions and events
Put words together in sentences
grammar correctly (e.g. “I had a drink” not “Me drinked”),
5 components of
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
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)?
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
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,
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”).
at books together that the child is interested in and talk about the pictures
and/or the story.
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
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
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