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Talking and Understanding Language

Examples of an Expressive Language Impairment are:

  1. A child may have difficulty in the areas of form (grammar and sentence structure), content (vocabulary) and/or the use of language (pragmatics or the social use of language).
  2. A child with difficulty in language form will consistently make errors in grammar such as “Her runned away.”, “Him like it.”, “Them do it.” Their speech may be characterized by errors in noun verb agreement, pronoun use, and verb tenses. Additionally, their sentence length may be very short compared to peers.
  3. A child who has difficulty in the area of content will make statements that don’t make sense based on the context such as when a young kindergartener is presented with shapes and consistently calls the diamond shape “golden”, or has difficulty remembering the names of farm animals and the sounds them make. They may call the animal by the animal sound or vice versa. Their vocabulary will be limited and categorization skills adversely affected.
  4. A child who has difficulty with language use may constantly interrupt others, talk off topic or have difficulty remaining on topic.
  5. For a very young child who is just learning to say their first words, an expressive specific language impairment would be observed as a delay in producing words. Children with developmental language disorders may begin as late talkers. Based on developmental milestones, an 18 month old should expressively be producing 50 words. However, their receptive language or understanding of language may or may not be intact.

Children who have receptive language deficits have difficulty understanding language in the areas of form, content and use.

Examples of a Receptive Language Impairment are:

A child may not understand language form including grammar and syntax, and thus misinterpret what is said to them.  An example is when a child is told to “put the doll under the table” and they may understand the sentence as “put the doll on the table.” A child may confuse understanding of pronouns too, such as when told “give the crayons to her” they may interrupt it as “give the crayons to him.”

In the area of content, a child asked to sort objects by group such as animals, food and clothes may get this task confused and not understand how to group items by category.

In the area of use (pragmatics) a child may not pick up on nonverbal cues such as understanding facial expressions, tone of voice, and situational context. They may not understand the “give and take” of conversations, and have difficulty taking turns. Eye contact may be limited or inconsistent.