Jason used a key verbal pragmatic skill when he initiated the interaction with his peers, communication of feelings. Jason and his friends use the popular vocabulary of their group to share both positive and negative feelings about school, each other, and themselves.

Selecting the precise word or phrase and using the appropriate inflection or tone are fundamental abilities related to the accurate communication of feelings. These abilities involve using physical and social cues to identify one’s current emotional state, reviewing known words or phrases in memory to label the emotion, and speaking the word or phrase that best communicates the emotional state to another person or persons. Communication is facilitated when the speaker overlays a tone and inflection appropriate to the words and phrases being spoken.

Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to communicate their feelings accurately

Helpful Hints

  • Improve students’ ability to communicate their feelings by enhancing their ability to recognize their different emotional states and identify their own emotions. Help students develop the vocabulary words to label their emotions and thoughts, and improve their verbal expression of feelings.  
  • Recognize students’ non-verbal attempts to communicate feelings (e.g., facial expressions, sighs, and gestures), and encourage them to express those feelings in words.  
  • Allow students to express themselves in ways other than through oral discussion (e.g., writing journal entries, matching pictures, answering true/false questions, role-playing).  
  • In particular, teach students to verbalize their feelings when they are becoming frustrated (e.g., This work is hard; I’m not sure what to do here; etc.).