Language as a whole has evolved to fit our needs of communication. Humans use language in various forms- through speech, writing, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, body language, etc. to express our thoughts and ideas.
Languages have remained an important factor of community and togetherness throughout history since we also tend to identify and associate cultural values with language. But at its core, language is a means and a tool for us. We begin learning these language skills to communicate at an early age in our own mental and physical state of development. Since we are children, we learn to speak and use language to communicate with others, answer questions, and express our wants and needs. Thus, language does play an important role in our lives.
Language enables us to function fully as adults, whatever form it may have. Without language skills, life would indeed be quite difficult for us. Thus, language is an immensely important factor in individual growth and development.
Language can be divided into two categories- Receptive language and Expressive Language. Both are equally important for children to learn and use for their proper development.
What Is Meant By Receptive And Expressive Language?
Receptive Language- How We Receive Language
The term ‘Receptive language refers to the input port of the language; it helps one understand language and what is expressed. Put simply, this relates to how we understand and make sense of language when we encounter it. It can be in various forms such as gestures, writing, pictures, hearing others speak, and learning how others are using words to convey their intent. Receptive language concerns itself with the comprehension of language by an individual.
Learning by example from those around us and using receptive language, we as children learn over time to appropriately express ourselves and communicate our thoughts and feelings to others. It is from learning by the observation that children get to know the meaning of words.
Expressive Language- How We Express Language
The term ‘Expressive language’ relates to the output part of language- the ability to put forth our thoughts, wants, and needs. Expressive language can also take several forms, ranging from speech and signs to gestures, facial expressions, sounds, and ideas. Expressive language is what all humans use from a young age for communication. Expressive language then concerns itself with us getting our thoughts and ideas across.
As children grow older, they learn to communicate with others using words they have learned in infancy. They point at objects, hold conversations, understand what to put into speech in specific social situations. They develop a sense of meaning for indirect phrases, a richer vocabulary, and can easily talk with other people at school. It is an important indicator of the language milestones a child reaches over time.
Why Is Expressive Language Important?
1. Expressive Language Helps Us Communicate Effectively
Expressive Language is important because it enables us to convey our own ideas, thoughts, expressions, and feelings. It gives us the ability to synthesize speech and interact with other beings. It is important to learn how to interact with others and is a key social skill to develop for a growing child.
Sometimes, we are not fully able to understand what other people around us are trying to communicate. Expressive language gives us the ability to get our intent across to others. Think of a situation when you are between people who speak a language that you cannot understand. Tourists often face this scenario, but being able to use expressive language effectively, they get their point across and interact with the group, sometimes without even using words.
2. Expressive language Helps Us Avoid Frustration
Expressive language also helps us to avoid mounting frustrations over time. The ability to articulate our wants and needs clearly is an important one. Even as a child, an individual is encouraged to communicate appropriately, and one undergoes thorough language development over time at their own pace.
3. Expressive Language Lets Us Ask For Help when We Need It
As children, we cry, gesticulate, and make sounds to let our parents know when we need help. Expressive language lets us do this. It is important to learn to attract the attention of others when we need assistance and find ourselves unable to function or act as the situation requires. This is an important ability to develop since it can be useful later when depressed and anxious.
4. Expressive Language Lets Us Interact With New Ideas
As children learn to interact in different social situations, their language skills develop. They can clearly articulate and make themselves understood among their friends and adults at school. This leads to emotional development as well. Children learn to ask questions and interact with new and unfamiliar ideas. We learn to process ideas using expressive language.
5. Expressive Language Also Teaches Us To Interact with Ourselves.
Sometimes the ability to talk with ourselves is a habit that comes in handy. Both ordinary and well-known people have maintained records and journals to pen down their thoughts and delve into their own thinking processes and psyche. Journalling and putting pen to paper helps us organize our thoughts and introspect, which is a great life skill to have. Writing is a part of expressive language, and it helps us in times of confusion and loneliness. The people who journal regularly often find it therapeutic, stress controlling and clears their mental space.
What Is Expressive Language Disorder, And How Can It be Treated?
Expressive Language Disorder
Individuals and children with Expressive language disorder experience difficulties expressing themselves through speech, writing, or gestures. However, it is important to understand that not all children learn at the same pace or have language skills. It can often be the case that a quiet and unexpressive child grows much more open and communicative over time.
Expressive language disorder in children can be identified as having a few telling traits, such as using more condensed sentences typically and phrases, only using standard phrases, and utilizing a small vocabulary. Children with an expressive language disorder cannot recall words and have trouble using the appropriate words when interacting with different people. They are hesitant to converse and use non-specific words to interact. Poor grammar, overlooking general rules of communication, difficulties in retelling stories or organizing information logically and simplified, echoing words while listening to conversations, etc., are also symptoms of this Expressive language disorder.
However, these traits must be properly contextualized with the child’s age and how other children of that age group usually interact. This is an important aspect of diagnosing expressive language disorder in children.
How It Is Caused
The disorder has no specific cause for all individuals; some children only have language difficulties developing on par with others. Some children may have language difficulties arising from other difficulties, like impairment by autism, for example. However, many of those who have expressive language disorder also possess a weaker receptive language ability.
Other aspects where children can face challenges while having expressive language disorder include behavior where they can face frustration due to lack of being understood, language literacy and fluency, planning and functioning, executive functioning involving complex thinking and reasoning skills, etc.
Luckily, this disorder can be treated by several methods like interacting with the child during playtime to encourage them to communicate. This involves pointing at things, asking and answering questions from them. Taling with the child throughout the day and asking them questions about what they are doing are helpful. While doing so, one should also talk facing the child, learning from watching your face. Efforts should also be made to expand the child’s language by encouraging them to explore things together.
Formal treatment for Expressive language disorder through a professional therapist, speech therapist, or Childcare specialists can also be sought easily.
Thus, Expressive language plays an important role in our lives from childhood and continues to do so in adulthood. It is important and helps as individuals who can communicate their thoughts, ideas, wants, and needs with others and themselves and understand how language and interactions work. It is important to recognize the role that language has played in shaping the world and us humans as we know it.
This article examines the meaning of expressive and receptive language, why the former is important, and how expressive language disorder in children can be treated. Here is another article related to language, its role in our lives, and how we identify with language.
What are your thoughts about the importance of Expressive language? What do you think of the role it plays in our daily lives? Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts on this topic.