Help Your Child Talk: From First Words to Sentences

Welcome  to  Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week's extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 

This week's extract highlights some of the words and phrases you're likely to hear your child use when he's 1 - 3 years old. He's learning fast during these months. Remember that he has to hear your speech repeated many times before he uses any of these words or phrases himself. 

Listening comes before speaking
The first words your child uses are labels for things. “Cup” “shoes” and “teddy” are simple labels called nouns and they represent the things he finds familiar. 

During his second year, he uses quite a collection of single nouns, until by his second birthday he has as many as two hundred words in his vocabulary.

First phrases
Single words are not the end of the story. We don't usually talk in single words. We use sentences. After a few months of naming things, your child moves on to putting 2 words together.

A 1 year old often uses groups of words, such as “up we go” or “here it is”. These, though useful, are not true 2 or 3 word phrases, because he’s learned them as though they were one word. 

They only have one meaning. He uses them appropriately in one context, but doesn’t yet split the words up and use them in other phrases.

His big step forward comes when he start to say, “Teddy cup”, “Mummy cup”, “Daddy cup”; or tries “hat on”, “coat on”, and “shoes on”. These short phrases of only 2 words together, are first steps towards proper sentences.But they don't have a verb.

Sentences
Action words, or verbs, are at the heart of the sentences we use as adults. Every complete sentence contains a verb. As your child begins to use action words he takes a giant stride into talking. 

He starts with the actions that he hears you say most often, such as “cry”, 'eat', “sleep”.  He combines these with his single word labels to produce miniature sentences. “Dolly sleep”, “eat biki” and “baby cry” are typical 2-word combinations at this stage.

Encourage his 2 word phrases by using them yourself.  Remember that modelling good patterns for him helps him to learn more quickly. 

You can use a few words in many 2-word phrases.  For example, “eat” can be used with a huge variety of other words in such phrases as “eat dinner”, “teddy eat”, “doggy eat”, “eat cake” and so on.

In the same way, you could build a whole series of 2 word phrases around a colour or a size“Big car”, “big boy”, “big dog”, “red hat”, “red boots”.

If you like this, you may want to read the rest of this Kindle book. Download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £2.09 (new reduced price - September only)

I write this Communication Blog

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Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.