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 being able to label objects in the environment, describe actions and events, put words together in sentences, use grammar correctly (e.g. “I had a drink” not “Me drinked”), retell a story, answer questions and write short stories.

Using speech (expressive language) includes:

  • Pre-language skills (includes: gestures, facial expressions, imitation, joint attention, turn-taking and eye-contact)
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Alternative forms of communication including key word sign and the picture exchange communication system (PECS)
  • Body language

Why is the ability to use speech (expressive language) important?

Speech (expressive language) is important because it enables people to be able to express their wants and needs, thoughts and ideas, argue a point of view, develop their use of language in writing and engage in successful interactions with others.

If a child is having difficulties using speech (expressive language) you may notice:

  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Gives unusual answers to questions
  • Sounds immature
  • Poor behaviour as the child cannot be understood by others
  • Difficulties making and maintaining friendships
  • Difficulties being understood by others
  • Poor social skills
  • Sentences are jumbled with words in the wrong order

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