I’ll be completely honest here….this has been a huge learning curve for me! I’ve been learning from my students as well as wonderful co-workers and I’ll share with you my take on pragmatic language skills.
The actual definition of pragmatic language is the social use of language.
When I started working in schools, I thought...yeah, I know pragmatic language. I just need to teach kids how to say hi, use eye contact, and answer questions. Done!
Well….it is a bit more complex that that. There are many aspects to social language that lie beneath the surface.
For example, saying hi is just saying “hi.” A child says “hi” differently depending on their communication partners (friends, teachers, parents). Some times it is socially acceptable to wave to friends and sometimes is is acceptable to say “hi” with a hug but this will depend on the level of the friendship and the comfortable level of your communication partner.
You are getting the idea...right?!
Then, to add a layer...there are the goals of the student. Some students WANT to make friendships and some would rather be alone. This true for all people on this earth. This is a personal choice and both are okay. It is important not to put our social goals on to our students.
We, humans, use language for many social purposes such as:
These are just a few areas of pragmatic language. The tricky part about pragmatics is that they can’t be tested with a paper and pencil. Pragmatic language skills are completely dependent on the social situation.
Some children with pragmatic language difficulties KNOW what they are suppose to do like, you should say “hi” to someone who says “hi” to you, but can’t carry out the activity in an actual situation.
This is where I'm learning like crazy. Check back soon for our assessment page for more tips!
This is NO COOKIE cutter program for this area of language. It depends on your child's skills, goals, and language abilities.
It is always a good rule of thumb to model:
These areas are needed to function in society!