Language Impairment (LI)


Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. A Language impairment is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:
  1. Phonology – Phonology is defined as the sound system of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning;
  2. Morphology – Morphology is defined as the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms;
  3. Syntax – Syntax is defined as the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence;
  4. Semantics – Semantics is defined as the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences; and
  5. Pragmatics – Pragmatics is defined as the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.

The language impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling. A language impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

This definition is found in State Board of Education Rule 6A-6.030121, F.A.C.

State Lead Contact

State Laws and Regulations

The rules referenced below are specific to LI. Please refer to Florida Statutes and State Board of Education Rules - Hyperlinked Index (PDF) for a complete listing of laws and regulations applicable to exceptional student education.

Department of Education Resources

Technical Assistance Papers (TAPs)



Online Modules for Professional Development

State Resources

National Resources