Language Development

Language Development

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A child’s “language” development relates to two areas:-

Receptive Language: comprehension of spoken language, such as understanding words, questions, concepts and instructions

- Expressive Language:  using words to get a message across, such as using a range of vocabulary, using grammar, putting words in the right order in a sentence, using sentences for story telling.

Even though children vary in their development of language, there are certain ‘milestones’ that can be identified as a rough guide to normal development. Typically, these skills must be reached at certain ages before more complex skills can be learned. These milestones are listed below as a guide:

Language Milestones

6– 12 month old child

At age 6 months, your child…..

  • Makes lots of different, playful sounds (called babbling)
  • Babbles for attentions
  • Turns and looks at new sounds

At age 8 months, your child….

  • Responds to their name
  • Produces four or more different sounds
  • Frequently uses syllables such as ba, da, ka
  • Tries to imitate sounds

At age 10 months, your child…..

  • May say “mama” and “dada”
  • Shouts to attract attention
  • Uses jargon (babbling that sounds like real speech)
  • Plays Peek-a-Boo

At age 12 months, your child….

  • Recognises their name
  • Points at objects for you to get or name
  • Says 2 to 3 words besides “mama” and “dada”
  • Imitates familiar words
  • Understands simple instructions eg. “give it to dolly”

12 – 18 months

From 12 to 18 months of age, your child….

  • Recognises his or her name
  • Understands “no”
  • Understands simple instructions
  • Points and gestures to call attention to an event or to show what they want
  • Imitates familiar words
  • Waves good-bye
  • Uses “mama”, “dad” and several other words, usually nouns
  • Practices words
  • Likes to make the sounds of familiar animals and tings
  • Gives a toy on request
  • Attempts to communicate by mixing jargon with real words

18 months

At age 18 months, your child…..

  • Uses 10 to 20 different words
  • Starts to combine 2 words, such as “all gone” , “bye mummy”
  • Imitates words and sounds more precisely
  • Point and gestures to call attention to show what they want
  • Brings familiar objects from another room when asked
  • Turns pages of a book a few times
  • Hums and may sing simple tunes
  • Develops a play routine

2 years old

At age 2 years, your child….

  • Understands simple questions and commands
  • Identifies body parts
  • Uses mainly the names of things, actions, people in his/her language
  • Carries on “conversation” with self and dolls
  • Asks “what’s this?”, “what’s that?”, and “where’s my…?”
  • Uses sentences of 2 to 3 words
  • Refers to self by their name
  • Uses 2-word negative phrases such as “not go”, “no want”
  • Uses plurals by adding “s” ( such as books, horses)
  • Has around 200 words in their speaking vocabulary
  • Listens to stories and points to pictures when asked

3 years old

At age 3 years, your child….

  • Knows the words “night” and “day”
  • Uses contractions such as “it’s” or “there’s”
  • Begins to understand instructions that contain a ‘location’, eg. “put the block under the chair”
  • Uses sentences to talk about events, observations, ideas and relationships
  • Knows his/her name, gender, and several nursery rhymes
  • Tells simple stories
  • Uses sentences of 3 to 4 words
  • Has nearly 1000 words in their speaking vocabulary
  • Asks “what” questions frequently

4 years old

At age 4 years, your child….

  • Points to colours red, blue, yellow, and green
  • Identifies crosses, triangles, circles and squares
  • Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “suppose that….” Or “I hope that….”
  • Asks many questions but is more interested in how answer fit his/her own thoughts than in the explanation
  • Uses sentences of 4 to 5 words
  • Asks “who” and “why” questions
  • Begins to combine sentences with “and”
  • Uses past tense correctly

5 years old

At age 5 years, your child….

  • Defines objects by their use eg. “you sit on a chair” and can tell what objects are made of
  • Knows words for spatial relations such as “on top”, “behind”, “far”, “near”, “over”
  • Uses sentences of 5 to 6 words
  • Knows common opposites such as ‘big and little’, ‘hard and soft’
  • Understands the words ‘same’ and ‘different’
  • Tells a story with a simple plot (problem, action to solve the problem, and outcome)
  • Uses future, present and past tenses
  • Asks a range of questions to get information
  • Uses a wide variety of complex sentences, eg. “I can go outside when I put my coat on”