Speech-language therapy vs tutoring: What’s the difference?

With so many support services available, understanding the difference between speech-language therapy vs tutoring is important, in order to choose the right services for yourself or your child.

Tutors re-teach information taught in the classroom. Students acquire information at different rates, not all master what is presented.  A tutor helps students acquire academic material by teaching the material. Tutors reinforce information taught in the classroom and help students finish academic tasks. The goal of tutoring is to help children and adults access material they have learned in school.

Speech-language therapy focuses on mastering communication skills. From our first words to the ability to interpret and convey complex material, we acquire speech and language skills to use in all aspects of our lives. Without solid communication skills, achieving academic and professional goals can be frustrating, if not impossible. Although speech and language therapy improves functioning in all academic areas, the focus of therapy is not just academics, its improved communication in all areas.

Support Services: Speech-language therapy vs tutoring 

With so many support services to choose from, it’s important to understand the differences between speech-language therapy vs tutoring.  Both are important and offer valuable services. A tutor is a private teacher.  They teach specific subjects taught in school and support a student by helping them learn the material needed to successfully complete a specific academic goal. They may teach strategies and tricks to help with learning, but tutoring is subject specific.

On the other hand, speech-language therapy supports overall communication. A formal evaluation starts the speech-language therapy process. Areas of need are identified and an individual treatment plan is designed.  Treatment begins with structured tasks and progresses to independent everyday communication tasks. Speech-language therapy not only addresses the area of weakness but also addresses negative attitudes and beliefs regarding communication challenges.  People with chronic communication difficulties often suffer from feelings of inadequacy and poor self-esteem.  Imagine watching everyone easily conveying their ideas while knowing you can’t.

What’s going on?

By targeting specific communication skills through remediation or teaching strategies,  academic functioning in all areas from math to history improve because strong language skills are needed to access and learn new information.  Success in school and work relies on a strong foundation of vocabulary, syntax, grammar, semantic and morphological skills. These skills must be effectively integrated, in order to, comprehend and convey complex information. Break down of language can occur either in acquiring the forms of language such as vocabulary, syntax, etc, younger children often have this problem, or in the ability to integrate all these areas for use. Often older children with language problems are able to perform structured language tasks that require one word or a short phrase answer but have difficulty expressing or comprehending the entire idea or concept. Speech-language therapy supports speech and language skill development while tutoring focuses on supporting academics.

Which is the right choice for you?

Speech-language therapy vs tutoring which is the right choice for you? This is an important question to ask? How do you determine what direction to take? Additional questions to ask include:

Is the challenge in one subject area only?
Is the challenge seen in many subjects?
Do you notice the problems in everyday life?

For instance, do you notice;

  • inability to follow multi-step directions,
  • limited ability to tell a story,
  • problems comprehending a conversation
  • poor communication with friends and peers.

The most effective way to identify subtle underlying speech and language problems is to have a private speech-language therapist, who works regularly with people that only have speech and language problems, perform an evaluation.   An experienced private speech-language therapist will identify subtle language problems that school-based therapist may not. Even subtle language problems can impact communication abilities throughout a person lifetime preventing them from reaching their academic and professional goals.

Published by Kai Long

Kai currently lives in MA and is interested in collaborating with others to develop a deeper understanding of our speech and language needs.