What is the difference between SPEECH and LANGUAGE?
LANGUAGE is what we speak, write, read, and understand. Language is also communicating through gestures (body language or sign language). There are two distinct areas of language: receptive (what we hear and understand from others' speech or gestures) and expressive (the words we use to create messages others will understand).
Children with receptive language problems may find listening and attending to conversation, stories, oral directions, classroom activities, etc. confusing and difficult at times. Children with expressive language disorders have difficulty sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely. For example, Julie has a receptive and expressive language disorder. She does not have a good understanding of the meaning of words and how and when to use them. Because of this, she has trouble following directions and speaking in long sentences.
SPEECH "refers to the sounds that come out of our mouth and take shape in the form of words" (Hamaguchi, 1995). The speech process is extremely complicated and consists of the following:
- How speech sounds are made (i.e., children must learn how to produce the /r/ sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
- Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (i.e., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice)
- The rhythm of speech (i.e., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).
When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder. For example, Billy has a speech disorder that makes him hard to understand. When he says words, they do not sound correct. Children who stutter, as well as people whose voices sound hoarse or nasal (on a consistent basis), are also diagnosed with a speech problem.
Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves. The problem can be mild or severe. In any case, a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the first step to improving language and speech disorders.