How is language different to speech?


How is language different to shutterstock_250106032speech?

Speech and language are two very different communication skills that are commonly confused. Speech production is a motor function that involves movement of the muscles of the face and mouth to produce clear sounding speech. In contrast, language is a cognitive process that relates to meaning, not sounds. The ability to understand and use language is necessary for a child to successfully convey or interpret a message that holds meaning. A person’s language skills are assessed by a qualified Speech Pathologist.

What is expressive and receptive language?

A person may present with differing expressive and receptive language abilities. Comprehensive language assessment performed by a qualified Speech Pathologist can pinpoint the areas of strength and difficulty in your child’s language development.

Expressive language describes how a child uses words, sentences and language to express themselves in a clear way. Expressive language allows a child to clearly and effectively communicate about their individual thoughts, feelings, ideas and needs.

Receptive language describes how a child understands the words, sentences and language used by others. Receptive language allows a child to interpret and respond appropriately to communication experiences that they encounter in their day to day lives.

Why is language important?

Language development is so much more than just learning how to talk. Language allows your child to understand and express their thoughts and feelings. Language forms the basis for thinking and behaviour as your child learns to use their internal dialogue, or ‘self talk’, to successfully understand and respond to their experiences. Understanding and managing their own anger and emotions, using predicting and problem solving skills to make good behaviour choices, and using language to influence how other people think and feel in social situations are all examples of how language supports your child to interact with the world around them.

shutterstock_268226225Learning to understand, use and enjoy language is also the critical first step in literacy, and the basis for learning to read and write. As your child progresses through school, the oral language demands of the classroom steadily increase. In the high school curriculum, children learn new information and subject content through listening to large chunks of spoken information. During high school, adolescents learn to be independent learners as they prepare for university and vocational training. Conversational language becomes the foundation of friendships as children move away from playing sports and games during lunch breaks, and spend more and more time sitting and chatting with their peers.

How does language develop?

Expressive and receptive language development occurs most rapidly from birth to 5 years. In order to learn how to talk, children must have opportunities to regularly hear and practice language. Creating a language rich environment through conversation, books, stories, play, songs and nursery rhymes is the best way to support your child’s language development. While all children develop differently, it is important to understand the milestones of language development so that language delays can be identified and treated early. Early intervention is recognised as the most effective way to treat and prevent language disorders in later childhood.

Milestones of language development.

How is language assessed?

Language assessment is performed by a qualified Speech Pathologist using standardised language assessment tools. Language assessment takes between 90 – 120 minutes to administer and may be conducted over two or three assessment sessions. Language assessment results can provide information about how your child performs in the following areas:

Message on chalkboard


  • Expressive language
  • Receptive language
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Following directions
  • Verbal memory

Language assessment provides an in-depth, comprehensive picture of a child’s language strengths and difficulties. Knowing how a child performs in particular areas allows the Speech Pathologist to pinpoint which areas are impacting most on their ability to communicate successfully in everyday life and academic settings. Learn & Grow Speech Pathologists believe that understanding a child’s strengths is as important as understanding their areas of difficulty.

What does language therapy involve?

If your child has identified language difficulties that require therapy, the Learn & Grow Speech Pathologist will work with you to develop an individualised treatment plan. Learn & Grow therapists believe in therapy that is achievable and meaningful for a child and their family.  The Speech Pathologist will work collaboratively with you and your child to decide which goals, activities and outcomes will be the most meaningful and motivating. Classroom adjustments and teaching strategies are often an important part of successful language intervention. Learn & Grow Speech Pathologists value collaboration with other professionals and will provide assessment feedback directly to educational support staff when requested.

The frequency, duration and intensity of language intervention will be determined by the nature and severity of your child’s difficulties. Home practice programs are included in all Learn & Grow therapy fees and will be reviewed and updated during each therapy session. School and educational support staff are often included in the intervention planning, delivery and review process. School therapy visits, school based language programs and educational support staff training can be included in your child’s intervention plan.

How do you make therapy fun?

Learn & Grow Speech Pathologists believe that therapy should be fun, motivating and achievable for clients and their families. A huge selection of games, toys, and activities that suit all ages and interests are used to keep kids excited about coming to their next Speech Pathology appointment. Goals for sessions are constantly reviewed and adjusted to ensure kids experience success and continue to build confidence with their communication abilities.

Start your Speech Therapy Journey with Learn & Grow Today

The Learn & Grow team are passionate about working with children and are committed to providing up to date, evidence based treatment that is both fun and effective. Get in touch with us today to discover how you can get the assistance your child requires.