Child language development; we often hear that children are like sponges and can easily learn any language when they are young. This is true, as long as they are exposed to it frequently in various contexts and are motivated to learn another language.

1. What is child language development?

Language development is a very slow process that takes its source in the first communications and develops gradually; around 2 years old, the child can express his desires using speech, but he will have to wait until the end of adolescence to be able to construct an argumentative text.

2. Stages of child language development; what are the milestones in language development?

2.1 The pre-linguistic stage

Child language development from 0 to 12 months:

* The child does not use words; this is a preparatory stage for language as we know it.

* He communicates with people. He cries if he is hungry, cold, or needs a diaper change. And he socially smiles and screams to demand treatment.

* This is the stage of differentiating crying and screaming. The mother can understand each of her messages. She knows whether the crying is due to hunger or the cold because each case has different nuances.

* At the end of this step, the child tests their vocal tract. He babbles, learns to pronounce vowels and some consonants. The "ma" and "pa" which have nothing to do with the words "mum" and "dad" appear. They are rather tests of different sounds.

* Their progress continues gradually. At the end of this period, he realizes that there is a relationship between his name and him. He uses simple words; he understands perfectly certain words which designate actions important to him. "Give me" and "take" are usually the first that a child captures.

2.2 The linguistic stage

Child language development from 12 to 24 months

The first words

Between 12 and 16 months. These are mono or dissyllables systematically associated with certain objects or certain situations (request, designation).

Vocabulary growth varies greatly from one child to another and is relatively slow until around 16 months (average 30 words).

Towards the end of the second year, it accelerates: 250 to 300 words around two years;

Around 18 months, the child begins to use the no, which shows progress in his individualization.

The first sentences

The first sentences appear between 20 and 24 months. (Association of two words to designate an action).

Some children arrive at the end of this stage with an excellent command of vocabulary and linguistic structures. However, this development depends, to a large extent, on the stimulation he receives from the people the child rubs shoulders with.

During the 3rd year

Vocabulary acquisition intensifies to reach approximately 1000 words at 3 years.

The child improves the articulation of the different phonemes (according to a fairly fixed progression from one child to another, depending on the difficulties specific to each articulatory gesture).

Acquisition of syntax: the sentences are first of "telegraphic style" (word-sentences), then gradually include subject, verb, complement, qualifiers, pronouns. The "I" appears around age 3, marking an important stage in the child's individuation and recognition of his own identity.

Child language development from 3 to 6 years old

If the child's development has been normal, he reaches 2 years of age with full development of language skills. He expresses himself naturally and fluently and can communicate exactly what he wants.

There may still be some issues with the pronunciation of the consonant groups, but they will go away with practice. If they last, it is advisable to consult a specialist. The latter will suggest strategies to help the child correct himself quickly.

At 4 years old, the basic linguistic repertoire is complete. It combines words to make simple sentences. The statements gradually become more complex and better structured.

The level of understanding has also grown.

If he stimulates contact with books in the course of his development, he begins to take an interest in written language. He recognizes that letters make up messages. It's time to teach him the letter of his name starts with, and the meaningful words to him, such as "mum," "dad." This task will be approached as a game and will be an excellent initiation to the path of literacy.

Often, if you have a history book in your hand, it will ask, "What is he saying here?". " This question indicates that he recognizes that the words make stories.

Related: Language disorder and delay in children; when to worry?

3. How to promote a child language development?

Here are some tips and activities to help develop your child's language skills.

From 1 to 2 years old

- Listen to your child's signs of communication. Sounds, gestures, smiles, and cries are all ways he uses to tell you something.

- Put into words what your child is trying to communicate. If he uses words, repeat what he says, and show or give him the object he names when appropriate. For example, if he says the word milk, say, "Yes, it's milk!" » Giving him his drink. This tells him that you understand what he is saying and that you care about it. He then discovers that his efforts to communicate are paying off.

- When you don't understand your toddler, try to understand what he wants to say by looking at the context. For example, if he is pointing outside and saying "outside" while you are in the house, observe if there is something special outside, or he just means he wants to go out.

- Build your child's vocabulary by adding something to what they are saying. For example, if he says the word apple, say, "Yes, a good apple! Or, if he says "a good apple," say, "Yes, you eat a good apple. By adding words, you teach him how to use them.

- Comment often on what your child says. For example, if he says "big cat," answer, "Yes, he's a big black cat. You like cats, you! This prepares him to use the words he knows to construct sentences, even if he doesn't know how to do it alone. It also makes him feel listened to and interesting.

From 2 to 3 years old

- Show your child that you are interested in what he says, and at the same time give him a role model by repeating what he says or by lengthening his sentences.

- To start a discussion with your child, start from what they are doing. So instead of telling him about his day at daycare, watch his current game and talk to him about it (e.g., "You're doing a big tower! Are you going to add more blocks?").

- Don't focus on your child's pronunciation, but on what they want to tell you. So if he hasn't said a word correctly, don't mention it to him. Just pronounce the word correctly.

- Often, look with your toddler at books that contain stories close to his daily life (e.g., a book about a party, about the potty, etc.). Ask him questions about what is said. Let him comment and ask you questions; this is how he will develop his language the most.

Originally published on Live Positively.