Learning Language

The Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists has published ‘Advice to Developing Speech & Language Skills in Infants and Children’.

Learning language can be fun for both parents and children according to Speech & Language Therapists and some really simple and effective advice is to do some of the following at home:

  •  Get face to face with your child; this develops a good foundation for communication skills.
  • Turn off the TV!  It is harder for children to tune out from background noise and concentrate on what you are saying.  We’re not saying don’t watch any TV; just try to limit it especially when talking with your child.
  • The IASLT recommends no more than half an hour per day of television for children under 2 years. This can be increased to 1 hour per day for 3-5 year olds. 
  • Try not to use a soother after the first year.  It makes it more difficult for children to talk and can have a negative effect on speech sound development.
  • Remember to give choices – do you want the red one or the blue one?
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat words and instructions several times with your child, they need to hear words many times before they can understand and use them.  Try not to correct, instead model what you want to hear.
  • Routines, such as feeding, dressing and bath time, are ideal opportunities for your child to understand and learn new words. The shared attention between you and your child and the repetition that takes place in these situations, is very helpful. 
  • Playing games such as peek-a- boo, ball play and sound play e.g. nursery rhymes / songs are important activities for speech and language development. This is because it is “turn taking” and therefore a child’s attention is developing through these fun activities, providing a foundation for language.
  • Introduce reading together from an early age.  Use age appropriate books, and develop your child’s attention skills by sitting down together, looking at pictures and pointing to and naming them. 
  • As they get older and their attention span increases, reading to your child is very beneficial.
  • Children learn language through play and interaction with their families and peers. 
Typical Stages of Speech and Language Development in Children

Remember: while there are norms for language and communication development, parents should be reassured that there is wide variation in typical development.

  •  Babies’ understanding of words develops ( 8-10 months) before they use their first words (approximately 12-18 months)
  • By 2 years children may be using short two-word sentences ( e.g. “drink gone”, “bye bye daddy”)
  • Understanding of language progresses rapidly over the period from 12 month to 3 years.
  • Children will move to understanding simple questions, words like “hot/cold” “in” and “on” and longer instructions: e.g. “Put your Jumper on and get your bag”…
  • Early on, children substitute speech sounds when they are learning to talk (e.g. a child might pronounce “car” as “tar”)
  • By 3 years of age, people familiar to the child should understand him most of the time.
  • From 3 to 5 years, children learn to understand more difficult words e.g. those referring to time and place such as “behind”, “morning”, “before”.  They will use longer sentences, combining ideas with words like “and” “because” and “but”. 
  • By around 5 years, children can answer simple questions about a story and their stories will have the main ideas in the right order.  Their speech will be clearly understood by strangers by 5 years of age.
  • From about 7- 8 years onwards children acquire as much language through reading as they do through verbal interaction.  New vocabulary, complex grammar, and the ability to use language to reason, negotiate and persuade others all continue to develop.

Advice for Children’s Language Development is available at www.iaslt.ie Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists.

A practical video on this advice can be viewed at www.speechmatters.ie


maternity & infant

Register Your Interest. Sign up to our mailing list!

By pressing subscribe you agree to our terms & conditions.

Thanks for Subscribing!

Your subscription has been confirmed. You've been added to our list and will hear from us soon!