What Does Poor Verbal Comprehension Mean?

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Verbal comprehension is the ability to read, understand and process language. Children who fail to develop this critical skill may struggle in school and perform poorly on intelligence tests. Interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers may also suffer if students cannot effectively send or receive verbal communication. Adults with deficits in verbal comprehension may experience difficulties obtaining or keeping a job because verbal comprehension is vital to making a good impression and following rules, directions and instructions.

1 Critical Listening

People with poor critical listening skills typically have poor verbal comprehension that often traces back to childhood. Critical listening means students can consider the words being said and have the capacity to formulate an on-topic opinion or response. Children without these basic competencies may have trouble focusing or comprehending what teachers, parents and peers are actually saying to them. Children who don't listen in class may struggle academically even if they're bright and capable.

2 Following Directions

Verbal comprehension is also the ability to understand directions given verbally and to follow them. Children are tested on whether they can follow simple commands, such as putting an item in a certain place or performing a simple action. Children with good verbal comprehension skills know which toy to bring to the teacher when they are instructed; children with poor skills may not understand or know how to respond. Failing to take direction impedes success in grade school, high school and college.

3 Memory

One aspect of verbal comprehension that is often tested in children is memory retention. Children without the ability to remember information told to them verbally thirty minutes later may have poor verbal comprehension. Some children's memories improve with age and practice, while some require further testing to determine if their memory is impaired or if they have a learning disability. It's advantageous for children and adults to be able to remember things they've read and things they've heard.

4 Vocabulary

Having an extensive vocabulary is a large part of verbal comprehension. If children have a limited vocabulary or don't understand words commonly used by their peer group, it may suggest poor verbal comprehension skills. Having a poor vocabulary makes it difficult for children to respond appropriately to spoken or written words. When children are having difficulty, individual tutoring and vocabulary practice is advisable to prevent children from falling behind in school.