You may often hear speech pathologists and teachers discussing a child’s “pragmatic skills.” “Pragmatics” is a word that simply means the use of language in social contexts. An example of this can be seen through a variety of things that we do during effective communication. Examples are as follows:
1. Greeting: One important aspect of pragmatics is appropriately greeting individuals.
3. Facial expressions: The ability to use appropriate facial expressions as storiesor conversations change.
4. Posture: Demonstrating appropriate body posture (not hunched over) when talking or listening.
5. Nodding: The ability to nod or demonstrate understanding of what is being said.
6. Intonation: The ability to change your tone or intonation appropriately to match the mood of the conversation.
7. Request clarification: Another important aspect of having effective communication is requesting clarification when something is not understood.
8. Topic: Another pragmatic skill involves maintaining the topic of conversation. Some children will hear a word or part of the sentence and then go off topic to discuss something else. It is important to bring them back to the original topic.
There are several other pragmatic skills such as politeness markers, giving explanations and appropriate imitation. Above is a list of some of the ones that I look closely for. If you suspect that a child has a Pragmatic Language Disorder, contact a speech pathologist. One standardized test that can be given is called the Test of Pragmatic Language-2 (TOPL-2). This is a norm-referenced test that provides important information and assists in program planning. Remember that strong pragmatic skills are important to achieve effective communication!