Health Information For Parents

Language Impairments Factsheet (for Schools)


What Teachers Should Know

Students with language impairments have difficulty understanding what is being communicated to them or difficulty expressing themselves. These difficulties may be verbal, nonverbal, or written.

Language impairments may be:

  • expressive — difficulty expressing ideas or needs
  • receptive — difficulty understanding what others are communicating
  • mixed — a combination of expressive and receptive

Students with language impairments have problems with one or more of the basic components of language required to understand or use spoken or written language.

Students with language impairments may:

  • have difficulty finding the right words, combining words to form sentences, and understanding the meaning of words and sentences
  • have problems understanding or following directions
  • use vocabulary, tenses (past, present, and future), or other grammatical rules improperly
  • have difficulty reading, writing, or spelling
  • have trouble with social aspects of language, such as taking turns in a conversation
  • miss class time to attend speech/language therapy
  • benefit from an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 education plan

What Teachers Can Do

Language impairments in kids and teens can range from mild to severe. Students may face social issues in school and at home because of communication problems.

You can help a student with a language impairment by:

  • making sure the student understands and writes down assignments correctly to help avoid confusion about what is expected
  • being patient — and encouraging classmates to be patient — when the student is speaking in class
  • having the student sit close to you so you can help with questions and instructions
  • giving additional time or assistance to complete class work, homework, and tests
  • learning about the student’s specific needs by talking with the student, parents or guardians, and the speech/language therapist

Medical Review

  • Last Reviewed: April 14th, 2014
  • Reviewed By: Mary L. Gavin, MD



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