Social Language Use (Pragmatics)
Some children may use long, complex sentences and speak clearly, but can still have a communication difficulty. Children need to understand the rules for social language. This is known as pragmatics.
Pragmatics consists of 3 main areas:
Following conversational rules:
- introducing topics of conversation and staying on topic
- proximity to someone when talking
- using appropriate facial expressions and eye contact
- reading and using verbal and non-verbal signs appropriately
- repairing the conversation when misunderstood
Using language appropriately for different purposes (such as):
- greeting (e.g., hello)
- requesting (e.g., I would like a drink please)
- demanding (e.g., I want that)
- informing (e.g., I'm going to the shop)
Using appropriate language for the situation or the needs of a listener:
- talking differently to a child than to an adult
- speaking differently to a teacher than on a friend
- giving context to your to listener
A child with pragmatic difficulties may:
- use rigid language and learnt phrases,
- recall stories and events in a disorganised way,
- say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations.
If you are concerned about your child’s social language development it is important that you talk to a speech and language therapist. Fortunately, social use of language can be taught and the earlier you get help the better.