How we Develop Expressive Language

Generally a child will be able to understand language before being able to express it. Therefore, this does not necessarily mean that if a child can’t express themselves they do not understand.

Two of the major areas affecting the effective use of expressive language are:

  • SYNTAX – notes the length of utterances spoken and how they are formulated [e.g. use of tenses, word order, grammar, etc.]
  • SEMANTICS – a linguistic term meaning the study of words and their meanings. Children change and sort out the meanings of words as they develop concepts about the world around them. For example ‘more’ is initially learned as a way for an action to be repeated ‘more swing’, ‘more juice’.  It is then learned as in increasing quantity as in ‘more sand’. Finally it is learned in relation to the number of items ‘one more’.In order to use language effectively a child needs to be able to organise, store and retrieve vocabulary. The more connections a child is able to make between ideas, concepts and vocabulary, the more flexible is his/her thinking.

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Last updated: 22 October 2015

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