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Ms. Whitcomb

Ms. Whitcomb

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

Ms. Whitcomb : Pragmatic Language

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Pragmatic Language
What is Pragmatic Language?

Pragmatic language is the use of appropriate communication in social situations (knowing what to say, how to say it, and when to say it). Pragmatic language involves three major skills:

  1. 1​. Using language for different purposes such as:

          Greeting (Hello. Goodbye. How are you?)

          Informing (I am leaving.)

          Demanding (Say “Good-bye.” Pick up the toy.)

          Stating (I am going to the playground.)

          Requesting (Do you want to go along?)

    2. Changing language according to the listener or the situation, such as:

          Talking to a teacher versus talking to a baby

          Speaking in a classroom versus talking in the cafeteria

          Talking about family to another family member versus a stranger

    3. Following rules for conversation, such as:

          Taking turns while talking

          Introducing new topics

          Staying on topic

          Continuing the same topic as the other speaker

          Re-wording when misunderstood

          Using and understanding nonverbal signals (facial expression, eye contact, etc.)

          Respecting personal space 

What are the building blocks necessary to develop social communication (pragmatics)?

·         Receptive (understanding) language: Comprehension of language.

·         Expressive (using) language: The use of language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and ideas.

·         Pre-language skills: The ways in which we communicate without using words and include things such as gestures, facial expressions, imitation, joint attention and eye-contact.

·         Executive functioning: Higher order reasoning and thinking skills.

·         Self regulation: The ability to obtainmaintain and change one’s emotion, behavior, attention and activity level appropriate for a task or situation in a socially acceptable manner.


 What activities can help improve social communication (pragmatics)?

·         Role play: Engage in role play activities with adults and other children to simulate social situations (e.g. going shopping, going to the park, visiting grandparents).

·         Turn-taking games: Engage in turn taking games, such as board games to teach the child that it is ‘okay to lose’.

·         Facial expressions: Look at facial expressions and discuss the feelings associated with the facial expressions.

·         Miming: Practice through miming making faces that show different feelings.

·         Describing activities: Look at pictures together to encourage descriptive language about a topic or thing, with the adult prompting to keep the child on topic.

·         Puppets: Take part in role play or puppet shows after watching a modeled situation.

·         Comic strips: Use appropriate comic strips that illustrate social situations (do’s or don’ts) and talk explicitly about what is happening.

·         Social skills groups: Work with the school to set up small structured groups where social skills can be practiced (e.g. turn taking, waiting, responding, staying on topic, questioning).

·         Social stories: Develop social stories that depict how to behave and respond in certain social situations.

·         Greetings: Encourage your child to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in social interactions.