What is Speech, Language and Communication?
Speech, language and communication overlap.
Speech sounds join together to form words - which are combined into sentences and conversations as part of language - which is shared with other people as communication.
Speech, language and communication skills are not all the same thing – they are important skills that interact with each other.
So what’s the difference?
Speech is how we make or articulate sounds, and how we put these sounds together to make words using our mouth, lips, vocal cords, tongue and breath. It includes clarity, voice, intonation and fluency.
Clarity is how clearly we make sounds e.g. how clear can we say ‘k’ or ‘s’. Babies and young children develop their sound system through babbling and then early speech. The speech sound system does not fully develop until 6-7 years.
Voice: Having a clear voice that is easy to hear with controlled volume. Some younger children find it hard to control their volume and may need time to develop this skill.
Intonation: using pitch and stress on words to make them sound more interesting and varied. Babies and young children respond well to this and will often try to imitate this.
Fluency: speaking without hesitating too much. Some young children go through a period of non fluency where the demands of communication cannot be met by their current skills and capacity leading to lots of repetitions and pauses. (stammering etc)
Language is a complex shared system for communication which is governed by rules. It covers both understanding (receptive language) and talking (expressive language).
Receptive and expressive language includes words, how words go together and higher level language skills.
Words: understanding and choosing the right vocabulary to express thoughts ideas and feelings.
How words go together: understanding and using the correct grammatical structures to put vocabulary into sentences, sentences into stories and conversation. This includes word order, grammatical words to join ideas and word endings such as ‘s’ to mark plurals.
Higher level language skills: linking language with the rest of the world and making sense of what people say - inferencing and verbal reasoning.
Communication is all about interacting with others. This is important for making friends and maintaining relationships. Using language and gestures in different ways and being able to consider other people’s points of view.
Non-verbal communication: eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice and body language to express ourselves e.g. being able to look at someone when conversing, to know when someone is interested.
Conversational rules. These are learnt through a child's experiences and include turn taking in conversation, knowing how close to stand to a person, knowing how much or how little to say in conversation, knowing when it is appropriate to change the topic.
Knowing when to use different types and styles of communication – including intonation, tone, turn-taking and eye contact – are known as social communication.
Speech and Language UK (Formally ICan) has an amazing selection of Factsheets for parents/carers/families on a variety of different speech and language topics.
Additonally, you can also find a list of support websites on our own website.