Pragmatic language development is the most abstract level of language. After children have mastered basic phonological skills to be understandable, have enough vocabulary and syntax/morphology in order to construct sentences, children must use this combined knowledge to accomplish social goals. The social aspects of language include the ability of children to state needs, give commands, express feelings, using language to interact appropriately with other people, to obtain explanations, and to share knowledge and imaginations.
Two aspects of language that are often the most difficult for children who are deaf or hard of hearing are 1) pragmatic language development and 2) expressive syntax. Even when children’s expressive and receptive vocabulary are within the normal range of development and they have developed intelligible speech, parents and EI providers/teachers often report that the children have not yet developed some of the pragmatic language skills necessary for them to develop social relationships and negotiate their social environment.
PRAGMATIC DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING COMPARED TO CHILDREN WITH NORMAL HEARING
Goberis, D.,Dalpes, M. & Abrisch, A, Baca, R., Yoshinaga-Itano, C.. (2012). The missing link in language development of deaf and hard of hearing children: pragmatic language development. Seminars in Speech and Language, 33(4), 297-304.
THE PRAGMATIC CHECKLIST
A Pragmatic Checklist was adapted from the work of Charlene Simon and incorporated into a checklist format with 4 response options: Not Present, Preverbal Uses no Words, Uses 1-3 words, Uses Complex Language. Information from children who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Colorado Home Intervention Program has been systematically collected from children 2 to 7 years of age. Information from children with normal hearing was collected via Survey Monkey. Many respondents were parents who had both a child who was deaf or hard of hearing as well as a child with normal hearing.
There are 6 pragmatic categories: 1) Instrumental-States needs, 2) Regulatory-Gives Commands, 3) Personal-Expresses Feelings, 4) Interactional-Me and You, 5) Heuristic-Wants Explanations, 6) Shares Knowledge and Imaginations. Norms for children with normal hearing and those who are deaf or hard of hearing are provided below.
Goberis, D.,Dalpes, M. & Abrisch, A, Baca, R., Yoshinaga-Itano, C.. (2012). The missing link in language development of deaf and hard of hearing children: pragmatic language development. Seminars in Speech and Language, 33(4), 297-304
INTERPRETATION OF PRAGMATIC CHECKLIST
PRAGMATIC CATEGORY LINKS:
- Makes polite requests
- Makes choices
- Gives description of an object wanted
- Expresses a specific personal need
- Requests help
- Gives directions to play a game
- Gives directions to make something
- Changes the style of commands or requests depending on who the child is speaking to and what the child wants.
- Identifies feelings (I’m happy.)
- Explains feelings (I’m happy because it’s my birthday.)
- Provides excuses or reasons
- Offers an opinion with support
- Blames others
- Provides pertinent information on request (2 or 3 of the following: name, address, phone number, birth date)
- Interact with others in a polite manner
- Uses appropriate social rules such as greetings, farewells, thank you, getting attention
- Attends to the speaker
- Revises/repairs an incomplete message
- Initiates a topic of conversation (doesn’t just start talking in the middle of a topic) Maintains a conversation (able to keep it going) Ends a conversation (doesn’t just walk away)
- Asks questions to get more information
- Ask questions to systematically gather information as in “Twenty Questions”)
- Asks questions because of curiosity
- Asks questions to problem solve
- (What should I do…?, How do I know…?)
- Asks questions to make predictions
- (What will happen if…?)
- Role plays as/with different characters
- Role plays with props (banana as a phone)
- Provides a description of a situation which describes the main events
- Correctly re-tells a story which has been told to them
- Relates the content of a 4-6 frame picture story using correct events for each frame
- Creates an original story with a beginning, several logical events, and an end
- Explains the relationship between two objects, actions or situations
- Compares and contrasts qualities of two objects, actions or situations
- Tells a lie
- Expresses humor/sarcasm