Expressive language refers to the use of language (talking). It includes skills such as having access and knowledge of a wide and specific vocabulary and the ability to join words and form sentences that are grammatically and syntactically (structurally) correct.
Children should start talking around their first year of life. By 18 months, their vocabulary has grown significantly and we expect children to have around 50 words in their repertoire.
A lot of young children may understand everything that you say to them but then have difficulty using words to get their message across. Difficulty with using language can exist with children of average or above average intelligence.
At North Shore Speech Therapy we will thoroughly assess your child’s use of language and give you individual specific strategies on how best to develop your child’s expressive language skills. If therapy is needed we can then devise goals and model fun activities to you that can be used at home to improve your child’s use of language. Parents often comment about how simple the strategies are to implement into everyday life and what wonderful outcomes they have for not only their child but the whole family.
The table below outlines typical expressive language development in 0 – 5 year olds:
Signs of Expressive Language Difficulties
• Uses gestures more than words to communicate
• Uses only short and/or simple sentences
• Uses incorrect words, omits words or puts words in the wrong order in a sentence
• Uses incorrect grammatical constructs or leaves off word endings altogether (e.g. plurals)
• Has a reduced vocabulary
• Uses non-specific language when describing or telling a story (e.g. thing, thingy, stuff)
• Changes topic inappropriately
• Has difficulty formulating questions, or initiating conversation
Strategies for Improving Expressive Language
• Provide repeated models of specific vocabulary
• Expand on what the child says, adding extra vocabulary that is relevant to the conversation eg. CHILD: ‘There’s a train’ YOU SAY: ‘Yes! A steam train’
• Model the correct word choice or grammar in a conversation
• Model the use of different types of language eg. describing, questioning, instructing etc
• Introduce activities that target development of concepts eg. differences & similarities