Language Development

Component 3: Pragmatics*

* “. . . pragmatics is the study of communicative action in its sociocultural context. Communicative action includes not only speech acts—such as requesting, greeting, and so on—but also participation in conversation, engaging in different types of discourse, and sustaining interaction in complex speech events.” (Kasper, 1997)

Standard 3.a: Children understand, follow, and use appropriate social and conversational rules.

By the following age ranges, children typically, for example:

  • Respond to the speech of others by looking toward the speaker
  • Initiate and engage in simple back-and-forth interactions with others by using facial expressions, vocalizations, gestures, and/or signs
  • Express enjoyment and a desire for “more” through body language (cues), such as kicking their legs, waving their arms, and smiling
  • Respond to others’ communication with gestures, signs, facial expressions, body movements, and/or sounds
  • Communicate vocally or use nonverbal strategies to communicate when interacting with a responsive adult
  • Engage in joint attention by directing their gaze toward what a speaker is looking at or pointing to
  • Point in order to request an object
  • Use varying body language/cues by language and/or culture to signal enjoyment or their desire for more of an activity from an adult (e.g., such as bobbing their head, raising their eyebrows, smiling, or tilting their head)
  • Participate in simple turn-taking during one-on-one conversations
  • Demonstrate concern for others through gestures, signs, and/or facial expressions
  • Directly interact with adults to signal enjoyment or a desire for more (e.g., by tugging on an adult’s pant leg, patting an adult, holding an adult’s arm, or verbalizing)
  • Respond to others’ statements, prompts, and questions
  • Use multiple means, such as verbal and nonverbal language, to communicate needs, wants, and feelings
  • Use culturally appropriate/acceptable social conventions to initiate and sustain exchanges of communication
  • Demonstrate an understanding of simple humor
  • Demonstrate an understanding of nonverbal cues (e.g., eye contact, distance from partner, and facial expressions) and the ability to use them
  • Use appropriate volume and intonation when speaking in a variety of social situations
  • Follow culturally appropriate/acceptable norms of communication in group settings, with support and modeling
  • Engage, with support and modeling, in conversations of at least three turns, with each exchange relating to and building upon what was said previously
  • Follow culturally appropriate/accepted norms of communication in group settings with increasing independence
  • Engage, with support and modeling, in conversations of at least five turns, with each exchange relating to and building upon what was said previously
  • Use language to communicate with others in familiar and unfamiliar social situations for a variety of purposes
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