Pragmatics: What is it and why is it important when communicating?

Sep 29, 2020 | Communication, General, Learning, Therapy | 0 comments

Someone may have mentioned to you that your child is struggling with pragmatic skills and this is impacting on their communication with others. So, what are pragmatics?
Simply stated pragmatics, or “social communication” is the use of language in a social context. This includes:
  • What is the aim of the message being communicated?
  • How is the message being given- what is the choice of language, is it formal? What is the tone of voice?
  • Rules of the conversation- i.e. body language, turn-taking, following the topic of others
Pragmatics uses three main skills:

1. Using Language

  • Greetings – e.g. saying hello or goodbye
  • Informing – e.g. ‘I am going to get a chocolate’
  • Demanding – e.g. ‘Give me the chocolate’
  • Requesting – e.g. ‘May I have a drink please’
  • Promising – e.g. ‘We will get you a toy on the way home.’
2. Changing language
  • Modifying and talking differently to a baby than to an adult.
  • Giving further details to someone who does not know the topic or leaving our details for someone who is familiar with the topic.
  • Talking differently in a classroom compared to the playground.
3. Following Rules – for conversations and storytelling
  • Taking turns when you talk.
  • Letting others know the topic when you start talking.
  • Staying on topic.
  • Rewording what you are trying to say when someone did not understand you.
  • Using gestures and body language, like pointing or shrugging.
  • Using facial expressions and eye contact.
  • Knowing how close to stand to someone when talking.
If your child is struggling with these skills accessing therapy from these therapists can assist.
  • Speech Pathologist – target the understanding of language development and social communication
  • Occupational Therapy – Target the development of independence with social interactions
  • Psychology/ Counselling – development of social awareness within conversations.
  • Group programs – This is the development of social skills with similar-aged peers and applying these social skills within a supportive and safe environment.

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