I’ll bet you didn’t know that a comparison could be made between language and one of the most amazing but simple desserts ever created—the S’more. There is, in fact quite a compelling comparison. Like a s’more’s 3 ingredients of chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow, Language also has 3 main ingredients: Form, Content and Use.
When talking about language, “Form” refers to the structure of words and grammar. Words are made up sounds called phonemes. The way we put those words together makes up our grammar.
The “Content” of our language is how we convey or understand meaning. It is the vocabulary that we use and how we choose to use it. It is being able to convey and understand the big picture and the tiny nuances of language.
“Use” refers to what we do with our language out in the world. The technical term for it is “Pragmatics” which is defined as social language skills that we use in our daily interactions with others. It includes skills such as appropriately greeting others, using proper eye contact while conversing, conversational turn taking, topic maintenance, topic closure, and maintaining body positioning appropriate for conversation.
Just like a S’more, these three ingredients: Form, Content and Use overlap and interact with one another. For example a child with intact articulation and grammar skills is likely to easily engage and talk. With these interactions they gain more vocabulary and comprehension abilities and also become more socially competent. These interactions are positive and rewarding experiences and therefore, these kids seek more of such interactions. It is beautiful when it works this way!
I do know that it doesn’t always work this way for all kids. That is why I am in this field. Sometimes, some of the ingredients need a little bit of tweaking to make it come together. Being aware of what your child’s strengths and challenges are is key to helping them to reach their best communicative potential. If you have concerns about your child’s communication development, contact a local speech language pathologist, that is what we do…That is our passion.
Whether or not your child needs professional help, YOU are your child’s best teacher. Just like a s’more, which definitely tastes best when made out in nature, Language also develops best within natural everyday contexts, within a natural hierarchy of developmental milestones. As a parent within these contexts, talk about EVERYTHING that is happening . Create that positive communication cycle reinforcing FORM, CONTENT, and, USE. Keep talking and talking and then talk S’more.