Common Speech and Language Terms

  • Articulation: production of speech sound(s). Melissa says the /s/ and /z/ with a "lisp"; we work on improving her articulation skills during speech therapy sessions.
  • Phonology: the study of how speech sounds (i.e. phonemes) are organized and used in a language. This includes the study of the individual sounds (phonemes), their patterns, how they are learned (phonological development).
  • Phonemic awareness: the ability to hear and manipulate individual speech sounds (i.e. phonemes). An example of a phonemic awareness task would be isolating and saying the first or last sound in a word.
  • Receptive language: the ability to listen and understand language. Areas of receptive language skills include: attention, receptive vocabulary, following directions, and understanding questions/requests.
  • Expressive language: the ability to communicate with others using language. Areas of expressive language skills include: facial expressions, gestures, intention, expressive vocabulary, semantics (word/sentence meaning), morphology, and syntax (grammar). In therapy sessions, we may work on labeling objects, describing actions and events, putting words together in sentences, using correct grammar, retelling stories, answering questions as well as writing.
  • Language Processing: the ongoing transmission, analysis, organization, transformation, elaboration, storage, retrieval, and use of information/language. In other words, it refers to the ability to attach meaning to what we hear and formulate an expressive response. 
  • Specific Language Impairment: is a language disorder that delays the mastery of language skills in children who have no hearing loss or other developmental delays. Also referred to as: developmental language disorder, language delay, developmental dysphasia, speech delay, or persistent language impairment.
  • Language-Based Learning Disabilities: are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing. It refers to a range of difficulties which can manifest differently in each child with different levels of severity. One student may have difficulty sounding out words for reading or spelling, but no difficulty with oral expression or listening comprehension. Another may struggle with all three. 
  • Social Language Skills: the verbal and non-verbal rules that dictate our social interactions. They include what we say, how we say it, our body language and whether it is appropriate to the situation. Also referred to as pragmatic language.