Why Speech AND Language? Isn’t it the same thing?

One reason it is important to understand the difference between speech difficulties and language difficulties is so one can know when to refer to a speech and language therapist for guidance.


Speech refers to such things as articulation, voice and fluency.

Articulation is how sounds are made.

Voice encompasses how our breathing, vocal folds and then production work in conjunction.

Fluency is how smooth someone’s voice output is versus having a stutter and other dysfluent ways of speaking.


There is expressive, receptive and social language.

Expressive language

  • How we put words together to make sentences

  • Are we getting what we want to say across clearly or are our words not in the right order and we are leaving out important details

Receptive Language

  • Understanding a word meaning

  • Answering “wh” (e.g. what, who, where, why) questions appropriately

  • Showing an understanding of language by following verbal directions

Social Language (also know as Pragmatics)

According to the American Speech and Language Association, appropriate Pragmatics require three areas of communication skills:

  • Using Language for different purposes

  • Changing your language according to who you are speaking to and/or the situation

  • Following rules for conversations and storytelling

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