Have you ever asked yourself how children learn a language? The time it takes to learn how to speak varies from one child to another. And it all depends on factors such as age, support at home, and the learning environment.
Your child goes through different stages when learning their native language. Going through each stage will help your child achieve certain milestones. This blog will outline everything you need to know about language development in children and what you can do to help them learn better.
Language Development in Children: The Basics
Before discussing the timeline of language development, it is important to know what language development is. Language development refers to your child’s ability to effectively communicate and understand what others are trying to say.
Developing language skills is essential. After all, it can help your child:
- Freely express themselves and be understood by others
- Think independently and learn new things
- Come up with solutions to problems
Language development is also important in building interpersonal skills. If your kid can communicate well with other children, they can make friends more easily. In other words, it paves the way for your child to develop meaningful relationships with their peers.
Lastly, language skills are important stepping stones for developing your child’s literacy. Nurturing your kid’s speaking abilities can help them easily learn how to read and write when they enter school. To help your children master their native tongue, you’ll need to understand how your child’s speech develops over time.
Stages of Language Development in Children
You’ve probably asked yourself at some point: “When do kids start talking?” The answer lies in your child’s language development stages. As kids reach a certain age, they unlock different language skills and learn new grammar rules. They’ll also learn how to compose sentences and the value of active listening.
Below we’ve provided a concrete timeline of your child’s language development stages and what you can expect from each milestone.
1-3 months old
Babies aged between 1-3 months old tend to play around with sounds. At this age, your child will coo, smile, laugh, and cry to get their point across. Moreover, they tend to communicate with gestures such as waving hands.
4-6 months old
At four months old, your child may be able to distinguish spoken words from other sounds. For example, they can tell if you are talking to them or if you clap. However, your child still cannot fully understand words and will communicate using only sounds.
6-12 months old
At around six months old, your child may start to pronounce syllables such as “ma-ma” and “da-da.” You might think of this as your child’s first words. This babbling sound is an early sign of your child trying to learn a language.
Your child is also more attuned to the sounds, voices, and facial expressions of the people around them. As such, they tend to mimic the sounds they hear and the faces they see.
1-2 years old
At around ages 1-2, your kid is now able to understand the meaning behind certain words. For example, they can now recognize and say the word “Mama” when they talk about their mom. This means they can slowly start building their vocabulary.
In addition to this, your child can form short phrases limited to 1-2 words. They are also able to understand and follow simple instructions such as, “Come here.”
2-3 years old
At ages 2-3, your child continues to learn new words steadily. For example, they can say the names of clothes, food, toys, and parts of the body. Your kid can also recognize action words such as “go” and “run”. Additionally, they will feel more comfortable using pronouns such as I, you, he, and she.
Now that your kid knows more words, they can piece them together and form simple sentences. They tend to speak mostly in the present tense. In addition to this, they are also able to answer simple questions when asked. They can also follow instructions such as, “go to the sink and wash your hands.”
3-5 years old
During this age, your child takes the next step in improving their language abilities. They can use more complex sentences to express their thoughts and feelings. This makes it easier for them to talk to their parents, siblings, and friends.
Moreover, their vocabulary can expand up to nearly 1,500 words when they reach age four. Along with these developments, your child can easily listen and follow more complex instructions. For example, if you ask your child to point to a chair, a glass, and a sock, they’ll be able to follow.
5 years old and above
Around this age bracket, you can expect significant improvements in your child’s language abilities. By the time your child reaches five years old, their vocabulary count can expand to up to 2,500 words. This will continue to progress as they learn new words growing up.
Knowing more words means your child can share their ideas more freely. This allows them to speak in full sentences and share better stories. Moreover, they are also able to easily follow conversations and more detailed instructions.
Tips to Help Your Kids Learn a Language
Every child learns at their own pace. You can help them jumpstart their language journey with the following tips.
Talk to Your Children Regularly
Engaging in fruitful conversations with your kids allows them to practice their speaking skills. Encourage them to communicate with you, whether through sounds, phrases, or sentences. You can start with general topics like how their day went and their favorite characters. Let the conversation flow smoothly.
When talking to them, it’s better to speak slowly and clearly using short, simple sentences. This way, they can better understand what you’re trying to say. For babies, you can mimic their sounds (e.g. coos) when they “talk” to you.
Read Books with Your Kids
Reading books offers several benefits to your child’s development, especially when it comes to language development. By reading stories, your child gets introduced to new words and topics. Read aloud to your child and point at the words with your finger as you go along. You can also ask them to repeat the words you say. It also helps to take pauses in between and ask what they think about the story so far.
Sing Nursery Rhymes Together
Nursery rhymes are a fun way to practice your child’s speech. They also allow you to introduce new topics such as animals, colors, and shapes to your child. Together, you can sing and clap along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Enroll Your Kids in Daycare Programs
Daycare programs give your child the opportunity to learn a language in a slightly more formal setting. A daycare offers language subjects and the opportunity to socialize. Some programs even offer subjects taught in foreign languages like Spanish. By learning in a nurturing setting, your child can learn new words and communicate better with teachers and peers.
Enjoy New Language Learning Opportunities at Rayito de Sol
Clear and effective communication begins during childhood. Cultivating your child’s language skills at an early age better prepares your child for the future. Once they’ve gotten a hang of their primary language, you can challenge your little ones further by encouraging them to learn a second language!
Rayito de Sol offers language immersion programs taught in a Spanish-speaking setting. When you enroll in our programs, you can rest assured that your child will be prepared for kindergarten while learning a new language. Visit our website to learn more.