Teaching Pragmatic Language Skills

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Do you have students who struggle to use appropriate verbal and nonverbal language in different social situations? Then this is the lesson for you! Read on for fun activities that will increase your students' pragmatic skills starting today!

Pragmatic Language Skills

Pragmatic language is the language that we use daily to communicate with other people. This can include the words we use and how we say those words as well as our body language when we are speaking and when we are silent. It also applies to how we do all this in different social settings. Deficits in pragmatic skills can make it difficult for our students to correctly and appropriately express what they are thinking and feeling, as well as making it difficult to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

Pragmatics Activities

The following activities and exercises will help you help your students become masters of pragmatics!

To Say It or Not To Say It?

Create different social scenarios for students to pick from and place them in a container. Have students draw a paper and read the scenario out loud. Next have the group decide if the sentiment in the scenario is something they should say out loud or something they should just think to themselves. Have the students explain their answers. This activity is great because you can create specific scenarios based on your students' exact issues. Example scenarios include:

  • Your friend Johnny is wearing a Batman shirt. You hate Batman and think Johnny's shirt is ugly.
  • Your teammate scored a goal in soccer. You think he did a good job.
  • Your teacher told the whole class to line up for lunch. You are not hungry.

Accommodations: You can read the scenarios out loud, and students can answer with a thumbs up or thumbs down sign.

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