The content of language, semantics, refers to the meaning of language. This is very important not only for successful communication but also for reading and writing.
Semantic development is often limited to vocabulary (word) understanding and expression. However, semantic language skills are critical for not only understanding but also using language. Semantics is the depth of understanding of known words, which is vital for continuous and age appropriate growth of ones vocabulary. Semantics is not just content and meaning but it also governs the meanings of words and word combinations. Students with semantic delays will experience difficulty learning new words, demonstrate poor flexibility in word usage, experience difficulty with storage and organization of known words, and struggle to access and retrieve words efficiently. Students with semantic delays will experience difficulty generalizing or transferring knowledge and often fail to grasp important points in a conversation. These students will also experience delays in reading comprehension and written expression. A delay in semantic language can have a significant and negative impact on academic progress and success especially in later elementary, middle, and high school. At that point students are expected to be proficient readers and will be exposed to a variety of new words in books, stories, and content related texts. An inability to develop strong content related vocabulary skills will interfere with learning new concepts.