Friday, August 7, 2009

Pragmatic Language Tips

There are several ways that parents and teachers can help children use language appropriately in social situations.

Some general suggestions are provided below to help children develop language in 3 major pragmatic areas. Although suggestions are geared primarily toward preschool children, they can be modified for use with older children as well.

  • Comment on a child's topic of conversation, before introducing a new topic by adding related information. This will encourage the child to talk more about a particular topic.

  • Provide visual prompts, such as pictures, objects, or a story outline to help a child tell a story in sequence.

  • Encourage the use of effective persuasion. For example, ask children what they would say to convince their parents to let them do something. Discuss different techniques to present their message. For example:
  1. Polite: "Please may I go to the party?" vs. Impolite: "You better let me go!"
  2. Indirect: "That music is loud." vs. Direct "Turn off the radio."
  3. Discuss why some techniques might be more persuasive than others
  • Encourage a child to rephrase or revise a unclear word or sentence. Provide an appropriate revision by asking, "Did you mean....."
  • Show how nonverbal signals are important for communication. For example, talk about what happens when a facial expression does not match the emotion expressed in a verbal message; e.g., using angry words while smiling.
For more information on pragmatic language, please visit

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