Pragmatic language skills are required for every aspect of a child’s life. Understanding and using appropriate social language is needed for making and keeping friends, fitting in at school, handling different emotions throughout the day, and using self-control in a variety of environments.
What is pragmatic language?
Using language for a variety of purposes (greeting peers/adults, making requests, sharing and gaining information, voicing complaints) in order to build and maintain relationships
Adjusting language to meet the needs of the listener or the environment (speaking to peers vs. adults, providing background information to unfamiliar listeners) in order to have a meaningful conversation
Obeying the rules of language (taking turns during a conversation, making appropriate eye contact and facial expressions, staying on topic) to show an understanding of how our culture uses language
What happens if it goes wrong?
Children who experience difficulty with pragmatic language skills often have trouble making friends because they are not following the rules of their language
These children can also have difficulty with class conduct because they may not understand how to adjust their language in order to be polite and show respect to the teacher
The child may feel “left out” during social situations and have trouble initiating interactions with peers or participating in group activities
They may have difficulty telling stories in an organized way
How can you help?
Encourage your child to use language in different ways and for different purposes
Practice social greetings with familiar and unfamiliar adults and peers
Have conversations, making sure to take-turns and be careful not to talk over each other
Ask your child to tell you stories about his/her day
Demonstrate your ability to change how you speak when interacting with a variety of conversational partners
Selene Black, M.S., CCC-SLP
Abilities is proud to offer social language groups to help children gain and practice using pragmatic language! Give us a call at 225.292.4138 if you think your child would benefit from these services.