Early Childhood Development: What are Language and Speech?

Parents often come to JFTN concerned about their child’s communication skills. Our speech therapists hear questions like:

  • Why doesn't my child answer my questions about what he did in school?

  • Why is my child’s speech unclear?

  • Why does my child speak so softly?

  • How can I make my child talk?

To answer these questions, it’s helpful to understand the difference between speech and language.

What is Language?

Language refers to all the rules we have to understand and combine words in meaningful ways. A child with a language disorder who has trouble finding the words to express himself shows “expressive delays". A child who has difficulty understanding the language others use may have "receptive delays". Either of these types of delays may explain a child’s inability to answer questions or respond to verbal cues.

What is Speech?

Conversation is a bit like traffic. If language is the law that governs the way we drive, then speech is the car that gets us where we’re going. In other words, speech is the physical aspect of communication. It's the articulation of sounds, the muscles we use to make words, and the rhythm of those sounds. A child with delayed speech may understand language, but is unable to pronounce words. She may have trouble coordinating the muscles that produce particular sounds, or she may lack fluency because she stutters.

What does JFTN offer?

Many of the children who come to our preschool have speech or language delays. Our speech and language therapy services enable each child to reach their full potential socially, emotionally, and educationally.

If your child needs speech or language therapy, our team of speech/language pathologists will develop a treatment plan that addresses your child’s specific needs. Our therapists may use play-based therapies, social stories, sign language, and devices like iPads to develop communication skills. Your child’s therapist will also provide materials for you to use at home and may accompany you to dental and hearing evaluations.

To learn more about JFTN speech and language therapeutic services contact JFTN admissions.