Expressive language skill is the ability to get the meaning or message across to others, and receptive language skill is the ability to understand the message coming from others. Suspected speech and language problems can be detected using standardized receptive and expressive language tests administered by a speech and language therapist or a neurologist. Children with receptive language disorder may have difficulty organizing their thoughts or following directions; those with expressive language disorder may have a lower vocabulary level than peers, have difficulty in finding the right words, repeat phrases or use improper tenses. Comprehension activities, vocabulary exercises and communicative language games are some activities that test the expressive and receptive language skills.

Comprehension Activities

Auditory comprehension involves reading a passage to a patient, then asking questions. See if the person can answer independently or with prompts. This activity challenges memory, understanding, attention and processing skills. Function naming is an activity that tests the person's understanding of an item and its purpose; you name the item and ask the patient to explain its use. Inferences is an activity for higher level thinking skills; it is a test of the patient's power of assumption. Auditory processing involves questions that check the person's ability to listen carefully, comprehend and respond appropriately.

Exercises

Naming opposites is a simple activity to elicit expressive response. You can test the person's understanding of receptive skills by using prepositions such as in, out, on, off, beside, behind and in front; for example, place an object in a location and ask the person to identify the preposition and its antonym. Yes/no questions is an activity in which you pose a simple question to your loved one and give enough time to answer. Word finding exercises improve the person's naming ability; expressive skills are tested by making an incomplete sentence with a missing word for the patient to fill in; it is best that the missing word is a person, place or object. The receptive skills can be tested showing a number of pictures and ask the person to point to the named one. Categories and group words test both expressive and receptive language; you provide the patient with a category and ask him to list the items in it. The receptive exercise makes use of pictures, where in the patient categorizes them.

Games

Communicative language games can be used to test and improve the expressive and receptive language skills in children. Games include board games, bingo, lotto and tick-tack-toe that cover a wide range of topics such as transportation, community helpers, feelings and sensations, food and drink, hygiene, objects and places (for example, park, zoo and school), days of the week, weather and seasons and social skills; these games motivate the children with varying motor and communicative skills to participate and develop communication skills. The student participates in communicative board games and answers the questions by using expressive and receptive cards and picture clues. Finger plays, finger puppets and action stories can also fascinate the student and help her hone receptive and expressive language skills.

Age-wise Developmental Requirements

Certain signs show that your child does not understand or express language that is age- appropriate. A child of 15 months should use at least three words and point to five to 10 objects or people when named by a parent or caregiver. At 18 months, he should follow simple directions such as "pick it up."At 24 months, he should use at least 25 words and point to a picture or a part of the body when named. At 30 months, he should use two-word phrases, including both nouns and verbs, and should respond out loud or nod and shake the head. At 36 months, he should follow two-step directions, follow action words, have at least a 200-word vocabulary and ask for items by name. Be sure to check these signs as a preliminary test for expressive and receptive skills before you contact the child's primary care provider or get a referral to a speech and language therapist.