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For 'speech', meaning a talk, see Public speaking

Speech is when spoken language is used to communicate, it is a psychomotor activity. Speech between two people is a conversation and the language structure differs depending upon the context. Only humans have language. Animals do not have speech, but some can communicate with each other by using sounds.

Speech is made of sounds travelling in the air. Sounds from the voice box is shaped by the lips, tongue, teeth, nose and palate.

To make speech a person has to be able to:

  1. choose speech sounds
  2. put them into a sequence
  3. produce sound in the voice box
  4. use the lips, tongue, teeth, nose and palate to shape the sounds

Difficulties can happen at any stage of this four-stage process. Difficulties at stages 1 and 2 are known as phonological difficulties while problems at stages 3 and 4 are known as articulation difficulties or motor co-ordination difficulties. A speech and language therapist can help work out the stage of the sequence that has difficulties and give therapy.[1][2]

An effective speech include the following elements – fluency, accuracy, and comprehensibility.

  • FLUENCY: Is the ability to communicate an intended message, or to affect the listener in the way that is intended by the speaker. While accurate use of language is a component in this ability, over-attention to accuracy may actually inhibit the development of fluency. Fluency involves the ability to adjust the message according to the responses of the listener, to construct coherent utterances and stretches of speech, to respond and to speak without undue hesitation (limited use of fillers such as uh, er, eh, like, you know). It also involves the ability to use strategies such as simplification and gestures to aid communication. Fluency includes knowledge and use of appropriate vocabulary and sociolinguistic knowledge – the skills required to communicate effectively across cultures, to know what is appropriate to say in what situations and to whom.
  • ACCURACY: This refers to the use of proper grammar; subject-verb agreement; word order; and word form (excited/exciting), as well as appropriate word choice in spoken language. It is also the ability to self-correct during discourse, to clarify or modify spoken language for grammatical accuracy.
  • COMPREHENSIBILITY: This is the ability to be understood by others. There are three components that influence one’s comprehensibility and language teachers must help students to develop effective speech in all three components: Pronunciation – saying the sounds of words correctly; Intonation – applying proper stress on words and syllables, using rising and falling pitch to indicate questions or statements, using voice to indicate emotion or emphasis, speaking with an appropriate rhythm; and Enunciation – speaking clearly at an appropriate pace, with effective articulation of words and phrases and appropriate volume.

References[change | change source]

  1. Bauman-Waengler J. 2000. Articulatory & phonological impairments: a clinical focus'. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Stackhouse J. and Wells B. 1997. Children’s speech and literacy difficulties. London: Whurr.