What is the Relation between Communication, Speech and Language? | Speech and Language Therapy

By Prapoorna M

Last Updated: November 27, 2021

Communication is essential for our day to day activities. It is the major source of information exchange between two persons that enables us to share our views, opinions and ideas. Being communicative helps a person to have good social interaction skills, which is highly necessary for his or her all-round development.

Types of Communication

When it comes to types of communication in normal life, there are two different modes of communication i.e. verbal and nonverbal. Speech is a verbal mode of communication and nonverbal communication includes gestures and writing. Either one or both of them can be used to communicate something to someone. For instance, when we say our name, observe the movement of the tongue, lips, and teeth. This is communication through speech, which means verbal communication. In the same way, what do the traffic police do when he wants to stop us? He uses gestures, isn’t he? This is also a means of communication, which is nonverbal. Likewise, filling in the application form is also communication through writing. So, one can express their thoughts not only through speech but also through gestures and writing.

A little boy trying to speak
A little boy trying to speak

Communication, Language, and Speech

What are communication, language and speech? What is the relation and difference between all these? Let’s just have a brief idea.


Communication is the transfer of information from one to another. So in communication two or more persons are involved. One who provides information (speaker) and others who understand information (listener). Without two persons communication is not possible. For example, when you are speaking, you are providing information. The listener is getting the information. When you are reading this material, you understand some written information. Also, to communicate, you may use some signs. When we hear the honking of a car horn, we understand that it is a warning signal. Similarly, our facial expressions and body language will also communicate our feelings and expressions to the viewers. Communication could also take the form of understanding sarcasm, gestures, or facial expressions which are also cues as to the meaning of what someone is trying to convey.


Language is the mode of communication. It is the medium that helps to communicate with another person. The different modes of language include speech, writing and gestures. Language can communicate our thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way. There are a number of languages around the world, each of which has different scripts that enable us to write and communicate in that language. Also, different cultures around the world, promote different meanings for various gestures. The common gestures followed world-wide are hand-waving, smiling and nodding, giving a hand-shake, maintaining eye-contact etc.


Speech is the verbal mode of communication. Have you ever wondered what could be the basis of speech? It is nothing but the air. The respiratory air passes through the larynx or voice box while we speak. We have two vocal folds in the larynx, which vibrate to produce sound. The tongue, teeth, and roof of the mouth are called articulators.
For instance, when we try making a sound like /ta/, the tongue raises, the movement of articulators modifies the air and the targeted sound is produced. Speech is the sound produced by vocal folds and modified by the articulators using the expiratory air. Speech is communication through conventional vocal or oral symbols.

A Child in Speech therapy, trying to pronounce
A Child in Speech therapy, trying to pronounce


Prosody is concerned with elements of speech, properties of syllables including intonation, stress, and rhythm. It is superimposed on speech. Therefore prosody has Suprasegmental features. For instance, if you try saying a name in a certain pitch, you cannot maintain the same pitch throughout the sentences because it varies while speaking the sentence and sometimes while you emphasize a word. This is called prosody.

Interrelation between communication, language, speech, and prosody. A child learns to speak by listening to others speech in the community. Hence, hearing is very important for one to learn to speak. If the child can’t hear, he will not learn to speak. It has to be taught to him. Hearing to someone speaking in a language other than that you know, will result in just hearing but not understanding. The reason is that you have learnt to speak in a language by hearing to it. As you have not heard this language, you don’t understand it and hence can’t speak it. So hearing is very important in order to learn to speak.
Let us understand the relationship between Speech and language.
You are aware that speech is the verbal mode of communication. Let us presume that you want to speak. “The book is on the table”. For, this you should know what a book and table is. If you don’t know the object book or table you will not have word for that, hence without the concept there is no name, therefore, speech and language are interrelated, there can be language without speech, but there can’t be speech without language.

Speech refers to speaking in a clear voice, in a meaningful way that makes it interesting to listen. The way a language is spoken with clarity, is important for the speech to be clear. Language is choosing the right words to refer to what you want to say. Making sense of what people has to say, language includes joining of sentences, to make the conversations. Communication refers to the usage of language or gestures to understand other’s point of view, which means understanding something that is unsaid, like from body language or facial expressions.
Speech, language and communication skills are crucial to the overall development of young children. Speaking clearly to communicate and understanding what others say, processing the language and delivering their ideas into speech are the essential building blocks of a child’s communication development. Children with Autism and other developmental disorders find it hard to communicate and to cope with social interaction skills and hence they withdraw from interacting. Also the communicative skills like maintaining eye-contact, answering aptly and understanding what others say is difficult for Autistic children. In case you find any problems related to communication in your child, get them resolved by contacting our experienced professionals. Book an appointment with our team of experts, today.