Language Disrorders




Receptive and Expressive Language

Receptive and expressive language skills develop from infancy.


Receptive language skills involve the ability to understand language including being able to follow directions, understand a story, and understand figurative language. Receptive language also includes understanding age appropriate vocabulary and the relationship between words and concepts.


Expressive language skills encompass the many ways of conveying a message. Expressive language skills include producing the forms of language, such as verb forms, plural endings, use of pronouns, as well as explaining the content of language.  Expressive language involves relating events in a clear understandable way to others.


Pragmatic language includes the function of language, which can vary based upon listeners. Pragmatic language involves the “way” in which a message is relayed, socially appropriate communication. Individuals with social communication difficulties, autism and Aspergers syndrome often show signs of pragmatic difficulties.


“The five basic language domains are part of a continuum, which spans to higher order language skills, such as discourse, which is impacted by skills in the pragmatics domain.

Higher order language skills include inferencing; comprehension monitoring; interpretation of complex language, such as jokes and puns; and use of text structure knowledge. Metalinguistic awareness is requisite for the development of higher order language skills and is defined as “the ability to think about and reflect upon language” (Gillon, 2004, p. 10). Metalinguistic awareness includes phonological awareness, morphological awareness, syntactic awareness, semantic awareness, and pragmatic awareness. Metalinguistic skills are also critical for self-regulation and self-monitoring.”  ASHA


Language Areas


ASHA American Speech & Hearing Association


Receptive Language


Expressive Language

Phonology ability to identify and distinguish phonemes while listening (i.e., phonological awareness) appropriate use of phonological patterns while speaking


Morphology understanding morphemes when listening using morphemes correctly when speaking
Syntax understanding sentence structure elements when listening using correct sentence structure elements when speaking


Semantics listening vocabulary speaking vocabulary

(includes discourse)

understanding of the social aspects of spoken language, including conversational exchanges  

social use of spoken language, including production of cohesive and relevant messages during conversations