Expressive Language

Download as PDF

What does ‘Expressive Language’ mean?

Expressive language is any verbal, spoken language that we use. Putting the right words, with the right sounds, into the right order and saying these clearly enough for others to understand us requires a lot of skill. Some children may have expressive language difficulties in areas such as using the correct grammar, finding the right words to express themselves, difficulties retelling stories, difficulties learning new vocabulary and/or difficulties combining words to form sentences.

Strategies to Develop Expressive Language

  • Keep it simple = Most children can only understand a little more than they can say. So try to talk to the child at their level, building on what they say by adding one or two words.
  • Wait for Me = Pausing and waiting give the child a chance to try to communicate. It takes children longer to process what you have said to them and to think of the words they want to use. In a busy classroom another way is to give children notice that you will ask them to contribute in a moment.
  • Give Me More = Using gestures or pictures with words can help children learn new words. This helps the child to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the word, which makes it easier to learn. And then they can use the signs or pictures to tell you things too.
  • Let’s Get Interested = Children can often only pay attention to one thing at a time. This means that if you’re talking about something they’re not looking at or interested it, they may not be hearing you. So it’s good to follow their lead and talk about what they’re interested in.
  • Be careful with questions = When adults use comments rather than questions, children join in and talk a lot more.
  • Show them the right way = If the child makes a mistake when he is talking, praise him for trying and repeat back what he said using the right words and sounds.
  • Have fun = it’s great to be with someone who shows you that they enjoy being with you. So when talking and playing with the child have fun with them! Do something you both enjoy. This helps learning a lot.