Expressive Language

Expressive Language involves a number of skills which include the ability to :-

This is the ability of a child to:

  • Label objects in the environment and the actions they perform
  • Describe objects
  • Join words together to form sentences
  • Use grammar to join these words together in sentences
  • Join sentences together in sequences to retell an event
  • Ask and answer a range of ‘wh’ questions
  • Use language to converse, question and joke with a range of partners in a variety of contexts
Children with expressive language problems may:
  • Use shorter sentences with incorrect grammar
  • Have difficulty thinking of names of objects, or have difficulty searching for a word eg. “umm, you know…that thing”
  • Have difficulty retelling what has happened in their day or retelling a story from a book
  • Have problems using their language to communicate effectively with their peers in the playground
  • Be unable to clearly describe or retell an event that has happened during the day
We can assist children with expressive language problems by:
  • Expanding the sentences they use in their interactions
  • Modelling appropriate sentences for them to imitate
  • Talking about what you do throughout the day
  • Having them take turns at telling stories to you/others
  • Correcting incorrect grammar and providing praise when attempts are made to correct the phrase
  • Asking them about objects in their environment
  • Describing and discussing books/everyday situations
  • Asking them questions such as: “Who is it? What are the people doing? Where? Why? And How?”
  • Playing word finding games – where the child has to think of words when we describe them
  • Spending time talking to them and with them
  • Sharing time looking at and talking about books
  • Having ‘talking time’ daily without distractions ie. TV turned off for 1 hour every afternoon or sitting down at the dinner table together to talk about the day’s events.

Receptive language

Receptive language is the ability to comprehend vocabulary, directions, concepts and questions. Understanding language also involves attention, memory and sustained concentration.

Research tells us that we understand more words in our vocabulary than we use. So, we may know the meaning of words but not use them in our everyday speech

Children who have receptive language difficulties may:
  • Have difficulty processing information presented verbally without visuals. They may only attend to part of the instruction
  • Be inattentive and display poor concentration
  • Follow what others are doing and appear ‘lost’
  • Have difficulty understanding and answering questions eg. ‘who, what, when, where, why?’
  • Not follow the content of a conversation accurately, and as a result, talk ‘off topic’
  • Be impulsive and act before a direction is completed
  • Have difficulty discriminating between words and interpreting everyday speech
  • Have poor reading comprehension
  • Be slower to learn new concepts
We can assist children with receptive language problems by:-
  • Shortening our directions so we outline one step at a time
  • Using direct language eg. “pack your toys away”, rather than “I think it’s a little messy in here”
  • Using gestures to help the child remember the important parts of the direction and to show them what you want them to do
  • Asking lots of questions about everyday events that incorporate reasoning eg. “Why do we have to wash our hands?”
  • Ensuring you have their full auditory and visual attention (ie. They are listening to you and looking at you) – you may need to call their name first or gently touch their chin to gain their attention. Attention is important for active listening
  • Using visuals (pictures of what the child has to do around the home and classroom)
  • Using real objects to teach concepts – hands on activities that are interactive
  • Praising for ‘good listening’ or ‘careful watching’

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