Children & language problems

By: Rana Gupta, Dec 19, 2013

What are signs of language problems in children?

Signs your child may be experiencing language problems.

Language is the organization of sounds or symbols that are used to communicate thoughts or feelings. Language consists of content, form, and use. How we say something refers to our form. What we say refers to the content of our language.

Why we say something refers to our use of language. Receptive language refers to the skills involved in understanding language. Expressive language refers to the skills of being precise, complete and clear when expressing thoughts and feelings, answering questions, relating events, and carrying on a conversation.

Components of Language

Semantics refers to the use of vocabulary to produce meaningful sentences.

Syntax refers to word order and the rule governed combinations of words used to form grammatical sentences.

Morphology refers to the learning and use of meaningful units as a word alone eg. house or suffixes or prefixes that express meaning such as verb tense or noun number (eg. ‘s, -ed).

Phonology refers to the knowledge of sounds and the rules governing acceptable, or grammatically correct
combinations of those sounds into words.

Language problems in children can be revealed in different ways

  • Delayed language development. Language is not developing within normal expectations.
  • Limited skills in understanding spoken language 
  • Poor listening skills 
  • Limited understanding of word meanings and meanings in general 
  • Limited expressive language skills 
  • Difficulties conceptualizing and formulating ideas about events, objects, and relations 
  • Difficulties learning linguistic form, particularly phonologic, morphologic, and syntactic rules. 
  • Limited use or lack of use of morphologic elements of language 
  • Limited use of sentence structures (limited syntactic performance)
  • Inability to adapt language according to different speakers or events, or an inability to use language for a wide variety of functions. These are pragmatic disorders.
  • Difficulties integrating form, content and use of language.
  • Deficient use of language that has been learned
  • Limited skills in narrating experiences
  • Limited conversational skills
  • Academic difficulties (reading and writing)

Rana Gupta is a speech-language pathologist with Aspire Speech Pathology service Halton Peel region and the GTA. Rana specializes in interdisciplinary and professional skills, pre-school & school age articulation, language andliteracy development, adult neurological swallowing disorders and adult neurologicalcommunication disorders.