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What do you mean?

Today we continued to learn about receptive language which is how we know what someone else means. We learned that there are 4 types of receptive language:

Following Directions

Receptive Vocabulary

Understanding Questions

Understanding Grammar.

People use all 4 types, but dogs are more limited. Dogs can understand some vocabulary such as, "sit," or, "walk." Luna decided to code that square as only partially what dogs can do because their vocabularies are so limited. Dogs can also follow directions like "come," or "kennel up."

Humans, however, can also understand questions, which dogs can not. If you ask a toddler, "Where is your bear?" he or she can go pick up their toy bear. Or when looking at a book if you say, "which one is the flower?" A young child can point to the picture of a flower even if he or she can not say the word yet. The child is able to understand what is being asked of them and can respond even if not verbally.

Grammar is also important for receptive language. I wrote the following sentence down for Luna:

Let's eat Grandma.

She gave me a very confused look. Then I added a comma...

Let's eat, Grandma.

Luna smiled, the pause in oral language or comma in written language is important to receive the communication as it is intended.

Many of us, including Luna struggle at times with receptive language. We may struggle to hold a series of directions in our minds long enough to follow all of them, or maybe we can't make a correct mental picture of the vocabulary we need to know in order to comprehend something. Sometimes knowing how to categorize the clues in a story or situation to be able to know the "who, what, where, why, when or how," can be difficult. We may even misinterpret something because we either missed or heard a "comma" or pause where it wasn't supposed to be, therefore changing the meaning.

Receptive language is an important part of clear communication, this week Luna and I are going to continue to find ways to practice and learn more about receptive language.

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Jan 20, 2021


You used some very big words, receptive and expressive; and I could tell from your report that you understood the difference between them. I was really impressed by your understanding and it gave me an idea. Your description of receptive language really shows how humans are different from animals. Sometimes humans think a dog can understand them when they ask, "What do you want?" or "What is the matter with you? I just asked Blacky that a minute ago because he was pawing at my lap. He just kept pawing!

I am planning to teach a class on "making choices," and you gave me an idea. With your permission, I want to tell them how dogs cannot understand question…

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