Language is a complex system, divided in four components: grammar, semantics, phonology and pragmatics. This article is about pragmatics: key field and vital skill for interpersonal communication.
Pragmatics is about language usage within social situations. Thanks to pragmatics, we can communicate one way or another in distinct situations. In addition, this skill allows us to understand the intentions of our interlocutor as they express themselves through feelings and gestures. For this reason, pragmatics alludes to the usage, functions and communicative intentions, analyzing how the context influences interpretation. Explicit pragmatics examples would include: greeting, asking for information, requesting information, complaining or seeking attention.
Another important aspect in pragmatics, is about guaranteeing coherence and structure in a conversation. For example, taking turns when we speak, initiating and rounding up a topic or adding important details to the latter. When we speak, we may express ourselves in literal ways, describing exactly what we want to say or in nonliteral ways using irony or jokes. Pragmatics is key to understanding the last two examples.
Pragmatic development in language learning begins around 6 months of age, which is when babies start using gestures to communicate with adults. Babies from nine-months onwards start developing communicative intentionality, they point to objects or seek attention through movement and gestures. At the age of 2, kids have become fully able to start a conversation and identify the ideal conditions for interaction. Parallel to that, their cognitive development allows them to assess the emotions, wishes and intentions of others.
Social language skills, in other words pragmatics, are essential for kids to develop communication skills in order to interact appropriately with others, improving their comprehension capacity and the way they express emotions.
At Smile and Learn, we have designed interactive stories (like Allison’s Decision or The Anthill) word games (like Word Maker), and feelings and emotions games (like Faces or Super-Emotions) that help the little ones sharpen their pragmatic language skills.
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