The Psychology of Language: How Humans Convey Emotion through Speech

by Allie Travis

Scientists define emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others”. The skill of emotional intelligence involves being emotionally aware of the emotions of oneself and others, being capable of harnessing emotions (oneself and others), and managing or regulating emotions to fit situations.

Can being aware of, interpreting, and managing emotions impact language learning ability? You bet. In one study, researchers found that individuals high in emotional Intelligence were better at English language learning because they are more proficient listeners, able to manage their own stresses and can easily adapt themselves within the context of the text they are reading.

Human speech conveys much more than linguistic meaning. Listening to different aspects of speech can also provide useful information about emotion. In fact, the emotional content of speech is perceivable even when the utterance is emotionally ambiguous or when the listener doesn’t know the language. To become more aware of the emotions of others, take note of the following vocal elements of speech delivery:

These verbal elements of speech delivery are used in conjunction with one another to add (or subtract) energy and expression to the spoken word. Language learners can pay closer attention to those around them as they speak – and to their own vocal variety – to become more aware of emotions and increase emotional intelligence.

About the Author

Veranda Hillard-Charleston is Chief Contributing Editor for a popular Psychology Grad portal. Veranda received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. With more than five years of experience as a trained mental health professional, she regularly writes for major


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