The difference between speech & language

What's in the name speech-language pathologist? I promise we aren't giving ourselves a longer name just for kicks! A speech-language pathologist treats both speech and language challenges and delays. 

But aren't speech and language the same? 

The short answer is, no!

Speech is what you child says. It consists of the sounds he or she makes when they talk to you or to others. In other words speech is how your child sounds when they talk.  

All children make what we call 'typical errors' when they are learning to speak. No child spontaneously starts talking and sounds like they can deliver the 6PM news! Learning how to speak is a process, and there are some sounds that are easier for children to say than others.  

For example the "b" sound is a lot easier to say than the "ch" sound which is why when we hear babies babble they usually make a 'ba ba ba' sound rather than a 'cha cha cha'. Simply put, "b" is a sound that a baby's mouth is ready to make. Whereas a "ch" sound requires a lot of action from the tongue, and lips which is why is comes later in speech development.  

As babies get older their mouths and brains are rapidly developing. Generally, by the time a child is 18 months they should be 25% intelligible. At 24 months a child's speech is 50-75% intelligible, and by 36 months a child's speech is between 75%-100% intelligible. 
-Lynch, Brookshire & Fox (1980), p. 102, cited in Bowen (1998).

Language is what your child can say and understand . In other words, language is the vocabulary and grammar your child has. There are different milestones for language than there are for speech, but generally a child has their first words between 12-18 months, and can say around 50 words by 24 months.  

If your concerned about your child's speech or language development or have more questions please reach out by sending me a message and we can chat further! 



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speech & Language therapy
Vancouver & Victoria, BC