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Skill Overview

Click below to watch a video of Dialogic Reading. 

What is expressive language?

Expressive language is meaningful speech. Expressive language involves the ability to articulate sounds correctly and use words, sentences, gestures and ultimately writing to convey meaning and messages to others.  Speaking and writing are two expressive language skills.


What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

  • Use verbal expressive language, such as formulating thoughts that are expressed using the appropriate word or combination of words.

  • Use non-verbal expressive language, such as conveying feelings through facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures.

  • Use written expressive language to construct meaningful sentences, paragraphs, and stories.


Why is understanding expressive language important to reading?

Expressive language enables children to retell a story or respond to questions about what they have read or what has been read to them.  It also enables children to express their wants, needs, thoughts and ideas, argue a point of view, develop their use of language in writing, and engage in successful interactions with others.

What screener can be used to determine if there is a deficit in expressive language?

Structured Literacy Tools

Sequential and Cumulative

Systematic and Explicit

To Mastery

In the early literacy classroom, teachers should provide regular and daily dialogue that prompts students to use the language and new words they are learning. Expressive language includes daily practice and modeling of dialogue, whereby students are expected to speak in complete sentences, use proper grammar, and correctly articulate the phonemes.

Developing expressive language requires an understanding of the progression of skills that begins with simple responses to yes/no questions and moves toward appropriate responses to connected text.  Students move through developmental stages that begin with one-word responses to sentences with irregular syntax, to communicating in Standard English.

Expressive language is likely to lag behind receptive language. Children typically understand more language than they are able to produce.   However, by the time a student enters Kindergarten, they should be able to answer simple yes/no questions, answer open-ended questions, and retell stories and events. The Common Core offers benchmarks for expressive language in the Speaking and Listening strands.

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
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