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You may have already read about speech development and speech sounds on our site.

Language is different from speech.

Language is complex but rule bound. It is composed of words and their meanings and and follows guidelines regarding how to create new words and the order in which we should produce words to make the most sense or impact on a particular social situation. 

Language within speech-language pathology has three main components: receptive, expressive and social. 


Receptive language refers to our ability to understand words or gestures. Receptive language includes word meaning. Most people know and understand many more words than they use on a daily basis. A child with poor receptive language skills may not be able to answer questions or follow instructions.  


Expressive language refers to our ability to express our thoughts, feelings, ideas, wants, and needs. Expressive language also includes the structure and sequence of words in a given language. A child with poor expressive language skills may speak with broken grammar. 


Social language, or Pragmatics, refers to our ability to use and change language for different purposes. Social language rules vary across cultures. A child with poor social language skills may say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations.


Learn more about the areas of communication by returning to the list of services.