What is speech and language?

  • Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:

    • Articulation- How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
    • Voice- Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice).
    • Fluency- The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).

    Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:

    • Word meaning (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
    • Making new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
    • Putting words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
    • Using appropriate word combinations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)
    • Using verbal/nonverbal language during social interactions (e.g., eye contact, greeting, conversational turn-taking, staying on topic, etc) 

    When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language); sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language); and/or using language appropriately in social situations, then he or she may have a language disorder.

    When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she may have a speech disorder.

    A speech-language pathologist provides services to address speech and language needs. To best meet each student's needs, services can be provided:


    *in a small group

    *in the classroom (push-in)

    *in a therapy room (pull-out)

    Source: asha.org