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What is the difference between Speech and Language?

Although the terms “Speech” and “Language” sound similar, they are actually different areas of development! A person can have difficulties with one area of development or both.


According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Speech is how we say sounds and words.


Speech includes articulation (i.e., how we make sounds using the mouth, lips, and tongue), voice (i.e., how we use our vocal folds and breath to make sounds), and fluency (i.e., the rhythm of our speech).


Children with a speech disorder may:

  • Have difficulty producing sounds correctly (e.g., difficulty producing the /r/ sound)

  • Have a hoarse or raspy voice

  • Repeat sounds or pause when speaking, called stuttering

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Language is the words we use to share ideas and get what we want.


Language includes receptive language (i.e., the ability to listen and understand speech), expressive language (i.e., the ability to express thoughts and ideas), and pragmatic language (i.e., the social language skills used during interactions with others).


Children with a language disorder may have difficulty with:

  • Understanding sentences, stories, basic concepts, following directions

  • Putting words into a sentence, expanding vocabulary, using correct grammar, using correct pronouns

  • Initiating and sustaining conversation, initiating play with peers, facial expressions, body language, taking turns

If you're looking for speech and/or language therapy in or around Chicago's North Shore (Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Northbrook, Northfield, Glenview, Deerfield, Wilmette, Evanston, Morton Grove, etc.), call The Little Speech Clinic today!

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