Expressive Language Skills Checklist [PDF Included]

The use of words, sentences, and gestures to communicate ideas and send messages to others is known as expressive language. Being able to categorize items in the environment, explain activities and events, make decisions, ask questions, and answer inquiries are all examples of expressive language skills. 

Comprehending the definition may not be enough to determine if your child ensures these attributes. A checklist with all evaluating questions can come in handy to identify and address these abilities before they may turn ambiguous.  Here we listed out relevant questions you may consider while making your register. 

Expressive language skills- Why are they eminent?

Expressive language is vital because it allows one to communicate their wants and needs, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Being a crucial part of communication, expressive language can benefit the individual on the following grounds:

  • Helps in polishing fine motor skills.  Expressive language is often more than just verbal communication. Gestures and sign language stipulate the movement of hands and thereby assist in better motor skills. 
  • It has a high impact on pre-language skills as these are the ways humans communicate without using words and include gestures, facial expressions, mimicry, collaborative attention, and eye contact.
  • Important in real-life scenarios. Expressive language is the way in which the individual can show up their views and comments socially on a regular basis. Accordingly, it is a fairly practically usable skill that adds convenience to the conversations and also builds up relations. 
  • Helps in contributing to the improvement of receptive language: Receptive language abilities refer to language comprehension, which is an underlying skill that allows you to categorize items, answer questions correctly, and use language in the right way.

Little ones get engaged with expressive language right from their home.  Babies learn to communicate by crying and facial expressions when they are famished, sick, or weary. They know how to laugh when they are having fun with a parent or guardian, and to smile when they are content. All of these are modes of communication. Nonetheless, a few attributes still need a checklist to evaluate. 

Expressive language skills checklist 

Joining school, the ability to express gets polished up in the little ones. Digging deeper and catching the roots beforehand can ensure good expression abilities. As a parent/caretaker, you may hold the following checklist while regularly checking learning patterns and relating them with expressive language skills. 

Expressive language checklist

Is your child able to:

  1. Ask multiple questions and also answer inquiries?
  2. Able to explain occurrences and offer their views in sentences?.
  3. Use simple pronouns like ‘he,’ ‘they,’ and ‘she.’ 
  4. Make use of proper plurals For instance: “Two automobiles”
  5. Make use of verb tenses. For instance: ‘She walked’
  6. Understands and applies various parts of speech while speaking or writing.
  7. Asking for information in ‘who’ and ‘why’
  8. Use possessive pronouns such as my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, our, ours, their, and theirs. Other pronouns include myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, and others.
  9. Interacting with others by  Using  direct requests with justification (“can you pass  me the bottle?.”)
  10. Can hold a rudimentary conversation and use language to ask others to play.
  11. Uses language to settle disagreements with peers.
  12. Participates in competitive exercise games (with help from adults)
  13. Understands the function and significance of print. They could be able to understand typing the text and how a printout of the same is taken out. 
  14. Enroll and participate in oration sessions and competitions?
  15. Communicate their complaints clearly in-home and classroom?
  16. Quickly respond to the question asked?
  17.  Start the conversation without fear?
  18. Use hands to explain the topic well?
  19. To write snippets of essays with good grammar?
  20. Wishing peers and others on their birthdays?

Each item that applies to the child or adolescent could perhaps be checked off.

Even those that only apply seldom or to a little degree should be noted. The more items that pertain to a youngster or teenager, the better. Younger children may take time to check all of these and if they checked off only two or more of the items on the above checklist, he or she could be presented with a clear linguistic delay. Specialist assessment is necessary for a formal diagnosis. Please contact your teacher’s GP or a speech pathologist to schedule a speech and language assessment.

So, how to improve the expressive language?

With a few definitive available, speech therapy can be assistive. In a research made by Maura R McLaughlin[1], the reason and solution for speech and language delay was studied. At the end, it was outlined speech-language therapy is helpful, especially for expressive language compromised students.  Expressive language therapy aims to provide each child with the tools and tactics necessary to convey their needs, emotions, and thoughts to the rest of the world. Thereby making a reasonable difference in the individuals. 

Creative use of these checklists

Having a checklist resource in hand may not be enough unless you have a perfect plan to employ and take value from it.  While this checklist can be traditionally used by teachers and mentors to evaluate children, here are some innovative ways to use them, making it more effective:

  • Let the child self-evaluate. The student often traverses through the topics and can better know their abilities with simple checkups. Transforming these checklist questions to a set of activities or games can not only make them unique learning sessions but also ensures self-evaluation and self-advocacy in the little ones. 
  • Make exams under each head. As the checklist has multiple questions addressing multiple attributes, the mentor or teacher can make relative tests to determine the check beside each question. If not all, a few questions at a time can be selected and evaluated.
  • Add them to the IEP goals. For special students, IEP goals are important to determine what achievements they owe at the end of each year or month. Transforming these checklist questions to IEP goals can make sure they can be marked at the end of the year.
  • Create a handbook. To make simple checks at regular intervals – say once a month, the parent or teacher can craft a simple handbook in which they can record progress in a comprehensible manner. This helps better parent-teacher communication as well.

Insights before winding up…

Delay in expressive language abilities has multiple underlying factors. It may be genetic, a side effect of autism, or even a by birth condition. Nonetheless, parents ensuring a checklist while opting for some fitting strategies may enhance their abilities.  Even for other schoolfellows, this checklist can assist in giving a perfect framework of the scenario assisting them to know the areas to improve their expressive skills. If the scores are low for a reasonable period, rather than taking a “wait and see” approach, we strongly advise you to seek guidance regarding your child as soon as possible. A pediatric speech pathologist is trained to assess communication needs in children.


  1. McLaughlin, M. R. (2011). Speech and language delay in children. American family physician, 83(10), 1183-1188.

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