Full version Language Development Of A Child From Birth To 5 Years

Language Development Of A Child From Birth To 5 Years

This print version free essay Language Development Of A Child From Birth To 5 Years.

Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 11 February 2011

Words: 8925 | Pages: 36


Language is a code made up of rules that include what words mean, how to make words, how to put them together, and what word combinations are best in what situations. Speech is the oral form of language. The purpose of this study is to find out the developmental stages the child goes through in the acquisition of language from birth to 5 years.

Language is a beautiful gift. With it we can share our wants, our needs, our thoughts, our feelings, and everything that makes us human. If you spend time with a child, you have the power to give and nurture this gift of communication.

Many factors affect the rate at which a child develops language. Sometimes language development slows down while a child is learning other skills, such as standing or walking. In other words, the bulk of the child's concentration and energy may be going to gross motor development at this point with little reserve for the development of language.

The amount and kind of language the child hears may also affect the rate of language development. For example, if the child is hearing two languages at home, his or her brain is trying to learn two sets of vocabulary, process two sets of speech sounds, and understand two sets of grammatical rules. That is a lot of work! It may take longer to begin talking, and still the child may at first feel comfortable speaking in only one of the languages. Some children who are immersed in a new language at school may be silent for a long period of time.

The rate of language development may also be affected by how people respond to the child. For example, the child whose communication attempts are greeted with eye contact, acknowledgement ("Uh huh. Tell me more. What else happened?"), and expansion of his or her ideas is likely to develop language faster than the child whose communication attempts receive little or no response.


The Main method of collecting data for this study was through self report measures and parental reports. When possible, information was also obtained from the participant’s teachers. In the case of the very young children, all the information obtained was from the parents. The reason I chose to use self report measures is because the child knows best about himself. The biggest draw back of self report measures was because the children were so young it was difficult for them to communicate their thoughts and ideas to me. The parental reports were the main source of information in compiling this research study. The parents (most often the mother) were given a questionnaire to answer and were also interviewed based on the questionnaire and their answers to get a clearer picture of the child’s language abilities. The mothers were also asked to observe their children over a period of three months to be able to help in determining the abilities of their children. Different parental strategies were introduced to see how effective they would be in the child’s language development. The mothers were contacted regularly and updates on the children’s progress were recorded.

The participants of the research were chosen at random, with the idea of eliminating as many biases as possible, for instance, the gender bias, social class bias, racial bias etc. and there was no hesitation from any member to participate. Their true identities remain classified. The results of the study have been given to the participants.

As a whole the experiment group was reaching their milestones on time and was very active. I found them to be having parents who were interested in their development and their emotional needs.

For this study, two subjects were chosen from each age group; 0-6months, 6-12months, 12-18months, 18-24months, 2-3years, 3-4years and 4-5years. One subject was male the other female. 4 subjects were Sinhalese, 4 Tamil, 3 Muslim and the other 3 were Burgher. 5 subjects were from the lower class, 4 from the lower middle class, 3 from the upper middle class and 3 from the upper class.

The questionnaire used was created with the idea of covering all the main points in language development; the child’s environmental input, the age she began talking/making sounds, word usage, sentence usage, grammar, gestures, parental support/strategies, patterns, common mistakes, comprehension, vocabulary and clarity of speech.

Parental observation helped a great deal in compiling the information as it acted like a progress report where I could monitor how the child’s language developed over a short period of time. As this research was built on the cross-sectional design, parental observations were very useful. The need to get the subject accustomed to the observer and other problems that crop up were avoided by using the parent, a familiar person as the observer.


Case Studies

As this research was based on the Cross- Sectional design, only the information relevant to the age group the child belongs has been stated. The history of each subject’s language development from birth has not been discussed. The names of the participants have been changed to maintain their anonymity. All other details are accurate and factual.

Case Study 1

Nazmia is 5 months old. She was born in July 2006. She belongs to a Muslim, lower middle class family. The household includes her maternal grandparents and an aunt. From around the age of 3 months, Nazmia was highly sensitive to the human voice and would listen attentively to the human voice more than any other sound. Beginning from producing only cries, around 3 ½ months she began cooing and laughing around 4 ½ months. She now produces (at 5months) single vowel sounds, for hours on end, with great fascination. She looks at a person who calls her by name, most often �baby’.

Case Study 2

Chamath is 3 Ð’Ð… months old. He was born in August 2006. He belongs to a Sinhalese, Buddhist, and lower class family. He has two older sisters who spend a lot of time with him as their mother goes to work. Chamath listens intently when his older sisters play with him. He smiles when he hears their voices even before seeing their faces. He yells loudly when he is crying, he can also make gurgling and cooing noises. Chamath smiles when his parents talk lovingly to him, but cries when they look angry.

Case Study 3

Rubini is 12 months. She was born in December 2005 She is from a lower middle class, Tamil, Hindu family. She is the only child. Her grandparents look after her most of the day. She spoke her first word �amm’ at 11 ½ months. She also says �tha’ and �ba’ for her bottle. She still babbles a lot. She makes her wants understood by pointing and showing what she wants. She waves �bye’ and gives kisses to known people. She seems to understand simple instructions, especially when you use gestures and hand movements to communicate.

Case Study 4

Brandon is 10 months old. He was born in February 2006. He is from a lower middle class, catholic, Burgher family. Brandon began babbling only when he was 6 months. He used to babble many sounds, but it is now only the familiar �ma’, �ba’ �pa’ etc. that he produces. He tries to communicate with people; he uses smiles and laughter to keep people around him. He still does not use words or sounds with understanding.

Case Study 5

Shamali is a 15 month old. She was born in September 2005. She is from an upper class, Sinhalese, Catholic family. Her mother is a house wife and devotes herself to her daughter. Shamali is very talkative and uses many words. The same word also has many meanings when Shamali speaks depending on the context of the situation. She has a vocabulary of around 50 words, mostly names of things, people, a few simple actions (go, come, carry, give, want etc.), and social words like hello, bye, see-you, etc. She gets very excited when she talks. Only Shamali’s immediate family understands what she says.

Case Study 6

Raj is 17 ½ months old. He was born in July 2005. Raj is from a Lower class, Tamil, Buddhist family. He has a 2 week old brother. His mother stays at home. Raj is looked after by his grandmother. Raj plays about with the other children near his house. He speaks about 20 words. Raj began to speak around 13 months. He is upset when he sees his mother with his brother and does not speak to the mother. The words he uses are clear to any one who is familiar with his speech. The words he uses describes nouns; things, people, food, toys, and a few action words like, give, go, sleep etc. The most prominent pattern seen in Raj’s speech is over extension; dog means any animal with four legs, bus is any vehicle with four wheels, etc. He understands much more than he produces.

Case Study 7

Marisa is 20 months old. She was born in February 2005. She is from a lower class, Burgher, Catholic family. She has an elder brother and sister. She is left in a day care center from morning till evening. Marisa’s caregivers can understand what she says. She speaks about 130 words, in about 2 word sentences. She likes nursery rhymes. The key patterns seen in her speech are; the lack of function words, there is no regard for grammar! The same sentence has various meanings, and she only expresses a limited set of meanings such as ownership, describing events, etc. She learns the ends of words more easily. She can do simple actions when told, like; �show me your nose’ etc.

Case Study 8

Mirzaab is 23 months old. He was born in January 2005. He belongs to an upper middle class, Muslim family. He has a pair of twin sisters younger to him. His environment is stimulating and print rich. He has a vocabulary of about 300 words. Most of his words are nouns or verbs. He also uses one or two prepositions and pronouns. He can follow simple commands. The patterns in his speech are a lack of function words and over extension; the same two word sentences have a variety of meaning. He can imitate big words and long sentences without difficulty. He also learns word endings more easily.

Case Study 9

Tamara is 2.8 years old. She was born in April 2004. She belongs to a Burgher, Catholic, upper middle class family. She goes to a private school (Montessori) from the beginning of the year. She speaks about 900 words. The clarity of her speech is about 75%. She tends to drop out words that are not absolutely necessary in a sentence to convey her meaning. Though her grammar is still not complete, she has very few word order errors. She can follow a story and often tells by memory stories she knows. She enjoys singing and rhymes. Her sentences are about three words long. She can answer questions, with understanding.

Case Study 10

Nethul is 2.4 years old. He was born in august 2004. He belongs to a Sinhalese, Buddhist, and lower middle class family. Nethul began schooling in a semi private school in September 2006. He can speak in sentences of an average of three words. He has a vocabulary of about 600 words. He omits words that are not absolutely necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence. He can follow simple instructions without any difficulty. The clarity of his speech is only about 50%. He can answer simple questions.

Case Study 11

Rani is 3.7 years old. She was born in May 2003. She belongs to a Tamil, Hindu, lower middle class family. She has an elder sister and a younger brother. Her vocabulary is around 1200 words. She can name a few colours, obeys what is said, uses prepositions, can use a wide array of conjugated verbs. She can explain what she is doing to others, understands the concept of today, tomorrow etc. She can say words with four syllables. She often plays in make believe worlds. Her clarity of speech is about 90%.

Case Study 12

Zaid is 3.2 years old. He was born in October 2003. He belongs to a Lower class, Muslim family. He is living in a poor language environment with little stimulation. He began school this year and there has been a vast improvement in his language capabilities. He now has a vocabulary of over 1000 words. He uses prepositions; he can understand certain conjugations of verbs like the �ing’ ending. He often plays in fantasy worlds. Zaid is able to follow simple instructions and even explain what he is doing to others. His clarity of speech is about 85%.

Case Study 13

Sureni is 4.11 years old. She was born in January 2002. She belongs to a Sinhalese, Buddhist, and upper middle class family. She has an elder sister. Sureni goes to an international school Montessori. She knows common opposites. Has a vocabulary of about 1750 words. She can speak in sentences up to 9 words long. She can name many colours and count up to 10. She can also follow up to three – four commands given clearly without interruption. She knows her age, full name and address. Her grammar is correct. The clarity of her speech is 100%.

Case Study 14

Santhush is 4.2 years old. He belongs to a Tamil, Catholic, and upper class family. He is an only child. He has a very print rich environment and a lot of adults who give him attention. His mother is very ill and unable to look after her son. He began going to an international school kinder garden is September 2005. Santhush can count up to 8, name the primary and secondary colours, follow commands of up to three at a time, use sentences with an average of 8 words, use prepositions, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs correctly, can understand concepts of time. His speech is 100% clear and he can describe in detail what he is doing. He is also able to tell his name, age, address etc.


The purpose of this study was to define the major stages in language development and to find out exactly which skills and abilities are acquired at each stage. The results of the information gained from the subjects can be tabled as follows.

Every child is unique and has an individual rate of development. This chart represents, on average, the age by which most children will accomplish the listed skills. Children typically do not master all items in a category until they reach the upper age in each age range.

Language Development Chart

Age of Child Typical Language Development


Months Vocalization with intonation

Responds to his name

Responds to human voices without visual cues by turning his head and eyes

Responds appropriately to friendly and angry tones


Months Uses one or more words with meaning (this may be a fragment of a word)

Understands simple instructions, especially if vocal or physical cues are given

Practices inflection

Is aware of the social value of speech


Months Has vocabulary of approximately 5-50 words

Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns

Some echolalia (repeating a word or phrase over and over)

Much jargon with emotional content

Is able to follow simple commands


Months Can name a number of objects common to his surroundings

Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under

Combines words into a short sentence-largely noun-verb combinations (mean) length of sentences is given as 1.2 words

Approximately 2/3 of what child says should be intelligible

Vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words

Rhythm and fluency often poor

Volume and pitch of voice not yet well-controlled

Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, you, although me and I are often confused

My and mine are beginning to emerge

Responds to such commands as "show me your eyes (nose, mouth, hair)"

2-3 Years Use pronouns I, you, me correctly

Is using some plurals and past tenses

Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under

Knows chief parts of body and should be able to indicate these if not name

Handles three word sentences easily

Has in the neighborhood of 900-1000 words

About 75% of what child says should be intelligible

Verbs begin to predominate

Understands most simple questions dealing with his environment

Relates his experiences so that they can be followed with reason

Able to reason out such questions as "what must you do when you are sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?"

Should be able to give his sex, name, age

Is not expected to answer all questions even though he understands

3-4 Years Knows names of familiar animals

Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate his understanding of their meaning when given commands

Names common objects in picture books or magazines

Knows one or more colors

Can repeat 4 digits when they are given slowly

Can usually repeat words of four syllables

Demonstrates understanding of over and under

Has most vowels and diphthongs and the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established

Often indulges in make-believe

Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities

Understands such concepts as longer, larger, when a contrast is presented

Readily follows simple commands even thought the stimulus objects are not in sight

Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds

4-5 Years Can use many descriptive words spontaneously-both adjectives and adverbs

Knows common opposites: big-little, hard-soft, heave-light, etc

Has number concepts of 4 or more

Can count to ten

Speech should be completely intelligible, in spite of articulation problems

Should have all vowels and the consonants, m, p, b, h, w, k, g, t, d, n, ng, y (yellow)

Should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words

Should be able to define common objects in terms of use (hat, shoe, chair)

Should be able to follow three commands given without interruptions

Should know his age

Should have simple time concepts: morning, afternoon, night, day, later, after, while

Tomorrow, yesterday, today

Should be using fairly long sentences and should use some compound and some complex sentences

Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct

Language Development

Birth to 6 Months:

Babies learn language in stages. From birth she receives information about language by hearing people make sounds and watching how they communicate with one another. At first she is most interested in the pitch and level of your voice. When you talk to her in a soothing way, she'll stop crying because she hears that you want to comfort her. By contrast, if you shout out in anger she probably will cry, because your voice is telling her something is wrong. By 4 months, she'll begin noticing not only the way you talk but the individual sounds you make. She’ll listen to the vowels and consonants, and begin to notice the way these combine into syllables, words and sentences.

As well as receiving sounds, babies have also been producing them from the very beginning, first in the form of cries and then as coos. At about 4 months, she'll start to babble, using many of the rhythms and characteristics of his native language. Although it may sound like gibberish, if you listen closely you'll hear her raise and drop her voice as if she were making a statement or asking a question.

Ages 6 to 12 months:

At this age the infant enjoys games like peek-o-boo and pat-a-cake. She turns and looks in direction of sounds. She listens when spoken to. She recognizes words for common items like "cup", "shoe," "juice." She begins to respond to requests ("Come here," "Want more?"). Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata upup bibibibi." A baby uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention and imitates different speech sounds. Finally a baby has 1 or 2 words (bye-bye, dada, mama) although they may not be clear.

Ages 1 to 2 Years:

Early in the second year, a toddler will suddenly seem to understand everything you say. You'll announce lunchtime and she'll be waiting by her highchair. You'll tell her you've lost your shoe and she'll find it. At first, this rapid response may seem a little unusual. Did she really understand, or is this just a dream? Rest assured, it's not your imagination. She's developing her language and comprehension skills right on schedule.

This giant developmental leap probably will alter the way you now talk to her and converse with others when she's around. For example, you may edit conversations held within her earshot, perhaps spelling out words you'd rather she didn't understand (as in, "Should we stop for I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M?"). At the same time, you'll probably feel more enthusiastic about talking to her because he's so responsive.

Most toddlers master at least 50 spoken words by the end of the second year and can talk in short sentences, although there are differences among children. Even with normal hearing and intelligence, some don't talk much during the second year. Also, boys generally develop language skills more slowly than girls. Whenever the child begins to speak, her first few words will probably include the names of familiar people, her favorite possessions and parts of his body. You may be the only person who understands these early words because she'll omit or change certain sounds. For example, she might get the first consonant (b, d, and t) and vowel (a, e, i, o, u) sounds right but drop the end of the word. Or she may substitute sounds she can pronounce, like d or b, for more difficult ones.

You'll learn to understand what she's saying over time and with the help of her gestures. By all means don't ridicule her language mistakes. Give her as much time as she needs to finish what she wants to say without hurrying, and then answer with a correct pronunciation of the word ("That's right, it's a ball!"). If you're patient and responsive, her pronunciation will gradually improve.

By midyear, she'll use a few active verbs, such as "go" and "jump," and words of direction, such as "up," "down," "in" and "out." By her second birthday, she'll have mastered the words "me" and "you" and use them all the time.

At first, she'll make her own version of a whole sentence by combining a single word with a gesture or grunt. She might point and say "ball," her way of telling you she wants you to roll her the ball. Or she might shape a question by saying "Out?" or "Up?" raising her voice at the end. Soon she'll begin to combine verbs or prepositions with nouns to make statements, such as "Ball up" or "Drink milk," and questions, such as "What that?" By the end of the year, or soon thereafter, she'll begin to use two-word sentences.

Age 2 to 3 Years:

A 2-year-old not only understands most of what you say to her but also speaks with a rapidly growing vocabulary of 50 or more words. Over the course of this year, she'll graduate from two- or three-word sentences ("Drink juice," "Mommy want cookie") to those with four, five or even six words ("Where's the ball, Daddy?" or "Dolly sit in my lap"). She's also beginning to use pronouns (I, you, me, we, they) and understands the concept of "mine" ("I want my cup," "I see my mommy"). Pay attention to how she is using language to describe ideas and information, and to express her physical or emotional needs and desires.

It's human nature to measure a toddler's verbal abilities against those of other children her age, but try to avoid this. There's more variation at this time in language development than in any other area. While some preschoolers develop language skills at a steady rate, others seem to master words in an uneven manner. And some children are naturally more talkative than others. This doesn't mean that the more verbal children are necessarily smarter or more advanced than the quieter ones, nor does it mean that they have richer vocabularies. In fact, the quiet child may know just as many words but be choosier about speaking them. As a general rule, boys start talking later than girls, but this variation, like most others mentioned above, tends to even out as children reach school age.

Without any formal instruction, just by listening and practicing, a child will master many of the basic rules of grammar by the time she enters school. You can help enrich her vocabulary and language skills by making reading a part of the everyday routine. At this age, she can follow a story line and will understand and remember many ideas and pieces of information presented in books. Even so, because she may have a hard time sitting still for too long, the books you read to her should be short. To keep her attention, choose activity-oriented books that encourage her to touch point and name objects or to repeat certain phrases. Toward the end of this year, as her language skills become more advanced, she'll also have fun with poems, puns or jokes that play with language by repeating funny sounds or using nonsense phrases.

For some youngsters, however, the language-development process does not run smoothly. In fact, about one in every 10 to 15 children has trouble with language comprehension and/or speech. For some, the problem is caused by hearing difficulty, low intelligence or lack of verbal stimulation at home. In most cases, though, the cause is unknown. If your pediatrician suspects your child has difficulty with language, she'll conduct a thorough physical exam and hearing test and, if necessary, refer you to a speech/language or early-childhood specialist for further evaluation. Early detection and identification of language delay or hearing impairment is critically important so that treatment can begin before the problem interferes with learning in other areas. Without identifying the difficulty and doing something about it, the child may have continuous trouble with classroom learning.

Age 3 to 4 Years:

At 3, a child should have an active vocabulary of 300 or more words. He'll be able to talk in sentences of five or six words and imitate most adult speech sounds. At times, he'll seem to be chattering constantly, a phenomenon that may sometimes disturb you but which is essential to his learning of new words and gaining experience in using and thinking with them. Language allows him to express his thoughts, and the more advanced he is in speaking and understanding words, the more tools he'll have for thinking, creating and telling you about it.

At this age, a child's speech should be clear enough that even strangers can understand most of what he says. Even so, he still may mispronounce as many as half the speech sounds he uses. For example, he may use w for r ("wabbit," "wice," "wose"), d for th ("dis," "dat," "den"), or t for any sounds he has trouble with ("tee" for three, "tik" for six). The sounds b, p, m, w and h will only begin to emerge midway through this year, and it may take months after that for him to perfect his use of them.

Age 4 to 5 Years:

At about age 4, a child's Language skills will blossom. She'll now be able to pronounce most of the sounds in the English Language, with the following exceptions: f, v, s and z probably will remain difficult for her until midway through age 5, and she may not fully master sh, l, th and r until age 6 or later.

A preschooler's vocabulary will have expanded to around 1,500 words by now, and it will grow by another 1,000 or so over the course of this year. She can now tell elaborate stories using relatively complex sentences of up to eight words. And she will tell you not only about things that happen to her and things she wants but also about her dreams and fantasies.

As a Result of this study a number of activities that could help in the child’s language development also came into light, they are also presented.

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development

Birth to 2 Years

o Encourage your baby to make vowel-like and consonant-vowel sounds such as "ma," "da," and "ba."

o Reinforce attempts by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech, and imitating vocalizations using different patterns and emphasis. For example, raise the pitch of your voice to indicate a question.

o Imitate your baby's laughter and facial expressions.

o Teach your baby to imitate your actions, including clapping you hands, throwing kisses, and playing finger games such as pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and the itsy-bitsy-spider.

o Talk as you bathe, feed, and dress your baby. Talk about what you are doing, where you are going, what you will do when you arrive, and who and what you will see.

o Identify colors.

o Count items.

o Use gestures such as waving goodbye to help convey meaning.

o Introduce animal sounds to associate a sound with a specific meaning: "The doggie says woof-woof."

o Acknowledge the attempt to communicate.

o Expand on single words your baby uses: "Here is Mama. Mama loves you. Where is baby? Here is baby."

o Read to your child. Sometimes "reading" is simply describing the pictures in a book without following the written words. Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures that are not too detailed. Ask your child, "What's this?" and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book.

2 to 4 Years:

o Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to model.

o Repeat what your child says indicating that you understand. Build and expand on what was said. "Want juice? I have juice. I have apple juice. Do you want apple juice?"

o Use baby talk only if needed to convey the message and when accompanied by the adult word. "It is time for din-din. We will have dinner now."

o Make a scrapbook of favorite or familiar things by cutting out pictures. Group them into categories, such as things to ride on, things to eat, things for dessert, fruits, and things to play with. Create silly pictures by mixing and matching pictures. Glue a picture of a dog behind the wheel of a car. Talk about what is wrong with the picture and ways to "fix" it. Count items pictured in the book.

o Help your child understand and ask questions. Play the yes-no game. Ask questions such as "Are you a boy?" "Are you Marty?" "Can a pig fly?" Encourage your child to make up questions and try to fool you.

o Ask questions that require a choice. "Do you want an apple or an orange?" "Do you want to wear your red or blue shirt?"

o Expand vocabulary. Name body parts, and identify what you do with them. "This is my nose. I can smell flowers, brownies, popcorn, and soap."

o Sing simple songs and recite nursery rhymes to show the rhythm and pattern of speech.

o Place familiar objects in a container. Have your child remove the object and tell you what it is called and how to use it. "This is my ball. I bounce it. I play with it."

o Use photographs of familiar people and places, and retell what happened or make up a new story.

4 to 6 Years:

o When your child starts a conversation, give your full attention whenever possible.

o Make sure that you have your child's attention before you speak.

o Acknowledge, encourage, and praise all attempts to speak. Show that you understand the word or phrase by fulfilling the request, if appropriate.

o Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation.

o Continue to build vocabulary. Introduce a new word and offer its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood. This may be done in an exaggerated, humorous manner. "I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too tired to walk."

o Talk about spatial relationships (first, middle, and last; right and left) and opposites (up and down; on and off).

o Offer a description or clues, and have your child identify what you are describing: "We use it to sweep the floor" (a broom). "It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I like strawberry" (ice cream).

o Work on forming and explaining categories. Identify the thing that does not belong in a group of similar objects: "A shoe does not belong with an apple and an orange because you can't eat it; it is not round; it is not a fruit."

o Help your child follow two- and three-step directions: "Go to your room, and bring me your book."

o Encourage your child to give directions. Follow his or her directions as he or she explains how to build a tower of blocks.

o Play games with your child such as "house." Exchange roles in the family, with you pretending to be the child. Talk about the different rooms and furnishings in the house.

o The television also can serve as a valuable tool. Talk about what the child is watching. Have him or her guess what might happen next. Talk about the characters. Are they happy or sad? Ask your child to tell you what has happened in the story. Act out a scene together, and make up a different ending.

o Take advantage of daily activities. For example, while in the kitchen, encourage your child to name the utensils needed. Discuss the foods on the menu, their color, texture, and taste. Where does the food come from? Which foods do you like? Which do you dislike? Who will clean up? Emphasize the use of prepositions by asking him or her to put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under the spoon. Identify who the napkin belongs to: "It is my napkin." "It is Daddy's." "It is John's."

o While shopping for groceries, discuss what you will buy, how many you need, and what you will make. Discuss the size (large or small), shape (long, round, square), and weight (heavy or light) of the packages.


What you can do to help

Birth to 1 year:

Always check your child's ability to hear, and pay attention to ear problems and infections, especially when they keep occurring. Even at this early age, there is much that you can do to encourage language development. Reinforce your baby's communication attempts by looking at him or her, speaking, and imitating his or her vocalizations. Imitate his or her laughter and facial expressions. Teach your baby to imitate actions, such as peek-a-boo, clapping, blowing kisses, pat-a-cake, itsy-bitsy spider, and waving "bye-bye." These games teach turn taking that is needed for conversation.

Talk while you are doing things, such as dressing, bathing, and feeding. "Mommy is washing Sam's hair." "Sam is eating carrots." "Oh, these carrots are good!"

Talk about where you are going, what you will do once you get there, and who and what you'll see. "Sam is going to grandma's house. Grandma has a dog. Sam will pet the dog." Talk about colors (e.g., "Sam's hat is red"). Practice counting. Count toes and fingers. Count steps as you go up and down them. Teach animal sounds (e.g., a cow says "moo").

Participating in Language Development

When a child is babbling, encourage her by talking to her throughout the day. When she says a recognizable syllable, repeat it back to her and then say some simple words that contain that sound. For example, if her sound of the day is "bah," introduce her to "bottle," "box," "bonnet" and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep."

Adult participation in a child's language development will become even more important after 6 or 7 months, when she begins actively imitating the sounds of speech. Up to that point, she might repeat one sound for a whole day or even days at a stretch before trying another. But now she'll become much more responsive to the sounds she hears you make, and she'll try to follow your lead. So introduce her to simple syllables and words like "baby," "cat," "dog," "go," "hot," "cold" and "walk," as well as "Mama" and "Dada." Although it may be as much as a year before you can interpret any of her babbling, a baby can understand many of your words well before her first birthday.

1 to 2 Years:

Continue to talk while doing things and going places. When taking a walk in the stroller, for example, point to familiar objects (e.g., cars, trees, and birds) and say their names. "I see a dog. The dog says 'woof.' This is a big dog. This dog is brown." Use simple but grammatical speech that is easy for your child to imitate.

Take a sound walk around your house or in the baby's room. Introduce him/her to Timmy Clock, who says "t-t-t-t." Listen to the clock as it ticks. Find Mad Kitty Cat who bites her lip and says "f-f-f-f" or Winnie Airplane, who bites his lip, turns his voice motor on and says "v-v-v-v." These sounds will be old friends when your child is introduced to phonics in preschool and kindergarten.

Make bath time "sound play time" as well. You are eye-level with your child. Play with Peter Tugboat, who says, "p-p-p-p." Let her feel the air of sounds as you make them. Blow bubbles and make the sound "b, b, b, b." Feel the motor in your throat on this sound. Engines on toys can make a wonderful "rrr-rrr-rrr" sound.

Expand on single word utterances. For example, if your child says "car," you respond by saying, "You're right! That is a big red car."

Continue to find time to read to your child every day. Try to find books with large pictures and 1-2 words or a simple phrase or sentence on each page. When reading to your child, take time to name and describe the pictures on each page. Have your child point to pictures that you name. Ask your child to name pictures. He or she may not respond to your naming requests at first. Just name the pictures for him or her. One day, he or she will surprise you by coming out with the picture’s name.

You may find yourself using less baby talk, no longer needing high-pitched singsong monologues to get her attention. Instead, try speaking slowly and clearly, using simple words and short sentences. Teach her the correct names of objects and body parts, and stop using cute substitutes, such as "piggies" when you really mean "toes." By providing a good language model, you'll help her learn to talk with a minimum of confusion.

You'll learn to understand what she's saying over time and with the help of her gestures. By all means don't ridicule her language mistakes. Give her as much time as she needs to finish what she wants to say without hurrying, and then answer with a correct pronunciation of the word ("That's right, it's a ball!"). If you're patient and responsive, her pronunciation will gradually improve.

2 to 3 Years:

Continue to use clear, simple speech that is easy to imitate. Show your child that you are interested in what he or she says to you by repeating what he or she has said and expanding on it. For example, if your child says, "pretty flower," you can respond by saying, "Yes, that is a pretty flower. The flower is bright red. It smells good too. Does Sam want to smell the flower?"

Let your child know that attempts at communicating are important to you by asking him or her to repeat things that you do not completely understand. For example, "I know you want a block. Tell me again which block you want."

Expand on your child's vocabulary. Introduce new vocabulary through reading books that have a simple sentence on each page. Continue to name objects and describe the picture on each page of the book. State synonyms for familiar words (e.g., mommy, woman, lady, grown up, adult), and use this new vocabulary in sentences to help your child learn it in context.

Put objects into a bucket, and have your child remove one object at a time, saying its name. You repeat what your child says, and expand upon it. "That is a comb. Sam combs his hair." Take the objects from the bucket and help your child group them into categories (e.g., clothes, food, drawing tools, etc.).

Cut out pictures from old magazines, and make a scrapbook of familiar things. Help your child glue the pictures into the scrapbook. Practice naming the pictures, using gestures and speech to show how you use the items.

Look at family photos and name the people. Use simple phrases/sentences to describe what is happening in the pictures (e.g., "Sam swims in the pool"). Write simple appropriate phrases under the pictures. For example, "I can swim," or "Happy birthday to Daddy." A child will begin to understand that reading is oral language in print.

Ask your child questions that require a choice, rather than simply a "yes" or "no" answer. For example, rather than asking, "Do you want milk? Do you want water?” ask, "Would you like a glass of milk or water?" Be sure to wait for the answer, and reinforce successful communication. "Thank you for telling mommy what you want. Mommy will get you a glass of milk."

Continue to sing songs, play finger games ("Where is Thumb kin?"), and tell nursery rhymes ("Hickory Dickory Dock"). These songs and games introduce your child to the rhythm and sounds of language.

Strengthen your child's language comprehension skills by playing the yes-no game. "Are you a boy?" "Is that a zebra?" "Is your name Joey?"

3 to 4 Years:

Encouraging continued language development gets really fun at this age. Cut out pictures from old catalogs. Then make silly pictures by gluing parts of different pictures together in an improbable way. For example, glue a picture of a dog to the inside of a car as if the dog is driving. After a good laugh, help your child explain what is silly about the picture. You can do the same thing with family photos that you do not need anymore.

Continue to sort pictures and items into categories, but increase the challenge by asking your child to point out the item that does not belong in a category. For example, a baby does not belong with a dog, cat and mouse. Tell your child that you agree with his or her answer because a baby is not an animal.

Continue to expand vocabulary and the length of your child’s utterances by reading, singing, talking about what you are doing and where you are going, and saying rhymes.

Now you can read books that have a simple plot, and you can talk about the story line with your child. Help your child to retell the story or act it out with props and dress-up clothes. Tell him or her, your favorite part of the story and ask for his or her favorite part.

Continue to look at family pictures, and now have your child explain what is happening in each one.

Work on comprehension skills by asking your child questions. Have him or her try to fool you with his or her own questions. Make this game playful by pretending that you have been fooled by some of his or her really hard questions.

Expand on social communication and story-telling skills by "acting out" typical scenarios (e.g., cooking food, going to sleep, and going to the doctor) with a dollhouse and its props. Do the same type of role-playing activity when playing dress-up. As always, ask your child to repeat what he or she has said if you do not understand it completely. This shows that what he or she says is important to you.

Expanding Vocabulary

You should be able to see how a child uses language to help him understand and participate in the things going on around him. For instance, he can name most familiar objects, and he'll freely ask "What's this?" when he can't call something by name. You can help him expand his vocabulary by providing additional words that he might not even request. For example, if he points to a car and says, "Big car," you might answer, "Yes, that's a big gray car. Look how shiny the surface is." Or if he's helping you pick flowers, describe each one he collects. "That's a beautiful white-and-yellow daisy, and that's a pink geranium."

You also can help him use words to describe things and ideas he can't see. When he's describing the "monster" in his dream, for example, ask him if the monster is angry or friendly. Ask him about the monster's color, where he lives, whether he has friends. Not only will this help your child use words to express his thoughts, but also it may help him overcome his fear of such strange and frightening images.

Explaining Pronouns

A 3-year-old is still learning to use pronouns, such as "I," "me," "mine" and "you." As simple as these words seem, they're difficult ideas to grasp, because they indicate where his body, possessions or authority ends and someone else's begins. And to complicate matters, the terms change depending on who's talking. Often, he may use his name instead of saying "I" or "me." Or when talking to you, he may say "Mommy" instead of "you." If you try to correct him (for example, by suggesting, "Say 'I would like a cookie' "), you'll only confuse him more, because he'll think you're talking about yourself. Instead, use these pronouns correctly in your own speech. Say "I would like you to come" instead of "Mommy would like you to come." Not only will this help him learn the correct use of these words, but it will help him establish a sense of you as an individual apart from your role as Mommy.

4 to 5 Years:

Always give full attention to your child when he or she is speaking, and acknowledge, praise, and encourage him or her after he or she has spoken. Before you speak to your child, be sure to get his or her undivided attention. Pause after speaking, allowing him or her to respond to what you have said.

As always, continue to build on your child’s vocabulary. Provide definitions for new words, and use them in context. "This vehicle is riding on the highway. It is a car. A bus is another kind of vehicle. So are a train and an airplane."

Encourage your child to ask for an explanation if he or she does not understand what a word means. Talk about spatial relationships (e.g., between, under, first in line) and encourage your child to do the same. Point out things that are the same or different. Play games that incorporate these concepts which he/she will meet later in the classroom in reading readiness.

Continue sorting items into categories. Now try to sort them by pointing out more subtle differences between objects (e.g., rocks that are smooth versus those that are rough, heavy vs. light, big vs. small). Again, have your child identify the object that does not belong in a given category, but now ask him or her to explain why the item does not belong.

Expand on social communication and narration skills (telling a story) by role-playing. Play house, doctor, and store using dialogue, props, and dress-up clothes. Do the same with a dollhouse and its props, acting out scenarios and making the dolls talk.

Continue to read stories with easy-to-follow plots. Help your child predict what will happen next in the story. Act out the stories, and put on puppet shows of the stories. Have your child draw a picture of a scene from the story, or of a favorite part. You can do the same thing with videos and television shows, as these also have plots. Ask "wh" questions (who, what, when, where, or why) and monitor his/her response.

Expand on your child’s comprehension and expressive language skills by playing "I Spy." "I spy something round on the wall that you use to tell the time." After your child guesses what you have described, have him or her give you clues about something that he or she sees.

Give your child 2-step directions (e.g., "Get your coat from the closet and put it on"). Encourage your child to give directions to explain how he or she has done something. For example, ask your child to explain how he or she made a structure out of Lego blocks. When playing doctor, ask you child to explain what he or she did to give the baby a check-up. Draw a picture, and write down your child's story as he tells it. He will soon grasp the power of storytelling and written language.

Play age-appropriate board games with your child (e.g., "Candy land" or "Chutes and Ladders").

Have your child help you plan and discuss daily activities. For example, have him or her make a shopping list for the grocery store, or help you plan his or her birthday party. Ask his or her opinion. What do you think your cousin would like for his birthday? What kind of fruit do we need to buy at the store?

Handling Bossiness and Swear Words

Don't be surprised if some of the words she uses are not ones you want to hear. After all, by now she's learned how powerful words can be, and she'll enthusiastically explore this power, for better and for worse. Thus, if a 4-year-old is like most others, she'll be very bossy at times, perhaps commanding you and others to "stop talking" or her playmates to "come here now." To help counteract this, teach children how to use "please" and "thank you." But also review the way you and other adults in the environment address her and each other. Chances are, she's repeating many of the commands she most often hears.

A child will probably pick up many swear words at this age. From her point of view, these are the most powerful words of all. She hears adults say them when they are most angry or emotional, and whenever she uses them herself, she gets quite a reaction. The best way to stop this behavior is to be a good role model and make a conscious effort not to use these words, even when you are stressed. In addition, try to minimize your child's using these words without drawing too much attention to them. She probably has no idea what these words really mean; it's just the energy of them that she enjoys.

Handling Insults

When a child's upset, you may find she'll use words as insults. Of course this is certainly preferable to physical violence, although it can be quite disturbing to you. Remember, though, that when a child uses these words, she's disturbed too. If she says "I hate you!" what she really means is "I am very angry, and I want you to help me sort out my feelings." By getting angry and shouting back at her you'll only make her feel more hurt and confused. Instead, remain calm and tell her you know she doesn't really hate you. Then let her know that it's okay to feel angry, and talk about the events leading up to her outburst. Try giving her the words that will allow her to tell you how she feels.

If the insults she chooses are mild ones, the best response may be a joke. For example, let's presume she calls you a "wicked witch," you might laugh and respond, "And I'm just boiling up a pot of bat's wings and frog's eyes. Care to join me for supper?" This kind of humor is an excellent way to take the edge off her anger as well as your own.

Of course, sometimes the preschooler doesn't have to say anything offensive to try your patience; her constant chatter can do it just as quickly. One solution at these moments is to redirect her verbal energy. For instance, instead of allowing her to chant mindless sound rhymes, teach her some limericks or songs, or take time out to read some poems. This will help her learn to pay more attention to the words she speaks and will boost her appreciation for the written Language as well.


o The biggest limitation to this study was the inability to use a greater number of subjects, the larger the number of subjects tested the smaller the margin of error would have been.

o Another limitation was the cost of beginning a large scale research with a laboratory setting where the subjects could have been observed and tested.

o The lack of co-operation from some parents who agreed to join in the research program was another draw back.

o The inability to gain access to the older children’s schools also was a limitation as I was not able to judge the standard of the school environment.

o The time frame barrier did not give me the flexibility to go and observe the children in a natural home setting as they were not familiar with me and acted differently in my presence, there was not enough time to get familiar with the child so that they would act naturally.

o The principle method of gaining data for this research; parental reports, might have been bias, as parents might have given me information of a composite child and not the exact information. This limitation was somewhat remedied by making the mother/caregiver an observer and getting regular reports of the child.

o Also as this study had a short time frame to be completed in, the cross sectional design was used over the more appropriate longitudinal study, as in language development the child’s achievement in each stage affects the next, in this study the child’s previous experiences were not taken in to consideration, only his abilities in a particular stage.


In conclusion I would say that this research study which was conducted to find out how language develops in children served its purpose with the added finding of activities that can help in the child’s development of language. The stages of Language development from birth to 5 years can be divided in to seven sub groups. Language development is an integral part of the child’s early years. It is the most important task he performs in his formative period. The task of language development is important for the child’s cognitive development as well.