Expressive Language

What is expressive language?

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Expressive language skills are the skills that we use to speak and share our ideas and thoughts with others. These skills include the ability to use and learn vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure as we put words together to form utterances. We also need to know how to use non-verbal language, such as tone-of-voice and body language. We put it all together when we use language to interact with others, and using language socially, or pragmatic language, is also an area of language development. 

What does an expressive language disorder/delay look like?

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  • Eye contact and responding to Mommy and Daddy’s language with coos and smiles begins in infancy. Babies play with sounds, and go through a period where they babble. Lack of babbling, social smiling, and eye contact might be an indication that your child’s language is not developing in a typical manner.


  • A child’s first words usually occur around her first birthday. She should be using gestures at this time as well, such as waving bye-bye and pointing. 


  • By 18 months, most children are using two-word combinations to express wants and needs. 


  • A child with an expressive language delay may have a limited vocabulary and may not learn new words as quickly as peers.


  • As children get older, difficulties using grammar may be evident, such as not using past tense verbs, plural forms, or pronouns. 


  • Using the incorrect sequence of words in sentences is often a characteristic of disordered language.


  • Individuals who do not use language to interact with others (for example, children who do not notice the play of other children and speak during play schemes) are likely experiencing expressive language difficulties.


Do you have a question about your child’s expressive language development?  TalkKing can help you with your concerns.