Social Language Tips: Using Language for Different Purposes, Changing Language for Different Listeners or Situations, Conversation and Storytelling Skills

Parents, cargivers, families, and teachers can help individuals use language appropriately in social situations ( pragmatics ). Some general suggestions to help develop skills in three major pragmatic areas are listed below.

Using Language for Different Purposes

  • Ask questions or make suggestions to use language for different purposes:
Desired Language Function Suggested Question or Comment
Comment “What did you do?”
“Tell me about…”
Request “Tell your friend…”
“What do you want?”
Question “Ask me”
  • Respond to the intended message rather than correcting the pronunciation or grammar. Be sure to provide an appropriate model in your own speech. For example, if an individual says, “That’s how it doesn’t go,” respond, “You’re right. That’s not how it goes.”
  • Take advantage of naturally occurring situations. For example, practice greetings at the beginning of a day, or have the individual ask peers what they want to eat for dinner or request necessary materials to complete an project.

Changing Language for Different Listeners or Situations

  • Role-play conversations. Pretend to talk to different people in different situations. For example, set up a situation (or use one that occurs during the course of a day) in which the individual has to explain the same thing to different people, such as teaching the rules of a game, or how to make a cake. Model how the person should talk to a child versus an adult, or a family member versus a friend of the family.
  • Encourage the use of persuasion. For example, ask the person what he or she would say to convince family members or loved ones to let him or her do something. Discuss different ways to present a message:
    • Polite (“Please may I go to the party?”) versus impolite (“You better let me go”)
    • Indirect (“That music is loud”) versus direct (“Turn off the radio”)
    • Discuss why some requests would be more persuasive than others

Conversation and Storytelling Skills

  • Comment on the topic of conversation before introducing a new topic. Add related information to encourage talking more about a particular topic.
  • Provide visual cues such as pictures, objects, or a story outline to help tell a story in sequence.
  • Encourage rephrasing or revising an unclear word or sentence. Provide an appropriate revision by asking, “Did you mean …. ?”
  • Show how nonverbal signals are important to communication. For example, talk about what happens when a facial expression does not match the emotion expressed in a verbal message (e.g., using angry words while smiling).


Related Articles:

Social Language Use

Reference: The Steps in the Process of Learning for a Person on the Autism Spectrum

iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone Apps for Learning Social Skills

iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone Apps for Non Verbal Communication

Social Impairment Can Be Improved by Teaching How to Pay Attention to People Instead of Things

Social Skills Activities for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Solution Chart for Social and Communication Difficulties for People on the Autism Spectrum

Communication in Autism

How to Understand Body Language – A Non Verbal Way of Communicating

Complete List of All Articles on Autism Spectrum Directory


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: