What Is Language? What Is Speech?
4-year-old Tommy has a speech problem. Friends and family have a hard time understanding what he is saying. He speaks softly, and his sounds are not clear.
Jane is also 4. She can only speak in one- to two-word sentences and cannot explain what she needs and wants. She also has trouble following simple directions.
Language is different from speech.
Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:
• What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
• How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
• How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
Speech is the verbal way of communicating. Speech consists of the following:
How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).
When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language delay or disorder.
When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech delay or disorder.
Language and speech delays and disorders can exist together or by themselves. The problem can be mild or severe. If you think your child has a speech or language problem please call Wee talk at 519-846-2715 or 1-800-265-7293 ext. 3616