The Connection Between Speech, Language, and Learning

Any student’s experience of school is filled with words. There are the words a child hears or sees each time a teacher gives a direction or delivers a lesson. And there are the words he hears from his peers during class discussions or out on the playground. Then, there are the words that make up the spoken and written responses in class, on assignments, and during down time. Each day is filled with endless words! So how does that impact the academic experience of a student who struggles with speech and language skills?

Of course that is a question best answered by a speech-language pathologist, which is why we were so excited to speak with Elizabeth Doherty. She is the founder of Manhattan Speech, Language, and Literacy, and Elizabeth has experience supporting learners of all ages with language skills. Listen to the conversation below or read the key takeaways to learn more about the work of a speech-language pathologist and the endless ways in which speech and language skills impact a child’s academic experience.

Key Takeaways

  • A speech-language pathologist supports students with receptive and expressive language. One can think of the former as the input – the words that we are hearing, processing, and that we have to make sense of. Expressive language, on the other hand, is the output. These are the words we use to express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

  • Receptive language is a huge part of the school experience for any child. From the moment a student enters elementary school, he is expected to follow spoken directions, make sense of the books his teacher reads, and learn from explanations. And as a child advances through school, the language demands only become more complex. In the end, if he struggles to process information from teachers, a child is sure to have a hard time in school.

  • Similarly, a student will use his expressive language to communicate with his teachers and classmates. A child will want to share ideas and communicate understanding. Plus, he needs to be able to formulate questions if and when he needs support. These expressive language skills are central to a child’s academic success.

  • And because language is made up of words and sounds, speech-language pathologists also support students with articulation and phonemic awareness. They teach kids how to not only formulate sounds but also how to segment and blend the individual sounds in words. They will also help kids learn to match those sounds to letters in order to build a strong foundation in phonics.

  • Many of the challenges that younger children have with articulation are developmental. Lisps or difficulty with r-sounds are common and something that most kids simply grow out of.

  • However, other difficulties with language-based skills are more concerning. If a young child is late to talk, late to use words, or late to learn to express himself, a speech-language evaluation can help to identify appropriate intervention if necessary. Similarly, it’s also helpful to speak with a speech-language pathologist if a child is struggling with reading, writing, and language processing in academic classes. Proactive, early intervention is always the best solution, and an excellent speech-language pathologist like Elizabeth is only an email or phone call away!

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