Toronto District School Board

What is Speech and Language?

Language and speech are not the same thing.

Language is made up of rules that include the following:

  • What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
  • How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
  • How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
  • What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)

Speech
Verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:

Articulation 
How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").

Voice 
Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice). 

Fluency 
The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).

When a person has trouble understanding others, or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely then he or she has difficulties with language.

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has difficulties with speech.

Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves. The problem can be mild or severe. In any case, a comprehensive evaluation by your TDSB Speech-Language Pathologist is the first step to improving language and speech problems.

Services of Speech and Language are funded differently within the TDSB.  See Provision of Speech and Language Services in Schools for more details.

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