Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Pragmatic Language

Communication Development: Pragmatic Language1

Pragmatic language is the social reason we use language, or the “practical’ aspect of language. We use language to communicate our thoughts and ideas to those around us. We also use language to explain and wonder about things, and try to make sense of the world around us.

Some pragmatic milestones include the following:

  • making eye contact with others (unless not culturally appropriate)
  • learning to take turns
  • using a tone of voice that mirrors that of adults (e.g. using different intonation when telling something, when asking a question, when excited , upset or scared)
  • modulating intensity of voice as needed (e.g. inside vs. outside voice)
  • using language to label things (e.g. it’s a dog)
  • using language to protest something (e.g. it’s not fair)
  • using language to express emotions (e.g. I feel happy/sad)
  • using language to express opinions (e.g. well, I don’t like it one bit!)
  • answering questions (e.g., it wasn’t me…)
  • telling others about experiences, briefly at first, then in detail (e.g., I saw that movie; I went to the movies with my older brother and his girlfriend)
  • staying on topic in a conversation (e.g., brings examples or ideas on the same topic)
  • moving to a different topic in a conversation (e.g., understands that topic of conversation has changed)
1 see References

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