The difference between speech and language in layman’s terms
You may hear the terms “speech” and “language” talked about, but may have a hard time understanding the real difference. Is there a difference? I have explained both of these concepts in “layman’s terms” below.
When we hear the word “language” used by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), we usually think of the more popular use of the term “language”, for example, English, Spanish, and French. The term “language” that is being referred to by an SLP is different, however. When we say “language” we are referring to how a child processes information or how a child communicates information.
Language can be expressive, receptive, or pragmatic.
Expressive language is the ability for a child to appropriately convey a message. This message can be verbal or written. It centers on how well they can express themselves.
Receptive language is the ability for a child to appropriately understand what is being said or asked and again this can be verbally or written.
Pragmatic language is a child’s ability to appropriately communicate socially and can consist of appropriate eye contact, distance during conversations, personal space and body language.
When we hear the word “speech” used by an SLP, we usually think of “public speaking or making a speech”. The term “speech”, when referred to by an SLP is describing a child’s ability to articulate words effectively.
A child may have difficulty producing individual sounds in words, understanding patterns of sounds in words, or using words in a smooth and relaxed rate. Respectively, these areas of speech are called 1) articulation, 2) phonological disorders, and 3) stuttering/cluttering. Voice disorders also fall under speech.
If this post was valuable in helping you understand these terms please leave a comment below.
Asia Hutchins has been a licensed (SA14300) and certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) since 2012. She earned a Master of Science Degree from Florida State University in 2012 and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Science and Disorders from Florida State University in 2010.