1 | 2
with toddlers is very different than communicating with infants.
After all, now they can express themselves using words. For most
caregivers, this is a landmark change and a great relief. Words
become very important during the toddler stage, and it is important
to understand what is happening during the toddler stage so that
we can respond appropriately.
By the time
they are a year old, many children can say a few words and understand
many more. By 16 months, most toddlers can say an average of 40
words and understand around 169 words (Golinkoff & Hirsch-Pasek,
2000). At about 18 months, language often explodes. Children often
begin to add as many as three or four words a day to their speaking
like reading and writing, develops in a predictable way. Children
usually begin with one-word sentences, like “shoe.”
These are called holophrases, and they represent
all the information in a thought, even though they are usually labels
for familiar people, places, or happenings. Children then go on
to what is called telegraphic speech because it
sounds a little like language in a telegram. Sentences consist of
a noun and a verb with no connecting words or modifiers. Meaning
relies on context. The meaning of “doggie gone” can
mean a variety of things depending on the context, from “I
want the dog back” to “Take the dog away!” Usually,
though, meaning is very clear. Toddlers depend heavily on non-verbal
communication methods like facial expressions, pointing, and tone
to convey meaning. As toddlers move through this stage and begin
to construct more elaborate sentences, their speech becomes more
adult-like, although construction may be creative. Children often
overgeneralize the rules of grammar as oral language develops, resulting
in sentences like “She eated all the ice cream.” As
children grow and gain experience using language, these constructions
disappear. By the preschool years, speech is becoming very much
like that of older children and adults.
to remember that oral language does not develop through formal instruction.
Children learn oral language skills as they talk with more skilled
language users, as they listen to conversations, and as they participate
in book reading. Children initially use language to communicate
with others. Oral language learning is essentially a social skill.