Language Learning in Toddlers

Language learning almost seems like a miracle. It only takes a few years for children to master their native tongue. Scientists have discovered that language development follows predictable rules and varies little from culture to culture. That's good news for you. With just a few simple steps, you can make sure that your toddler stays on the right path toward language mastery.

Toddler Language Abilities
By the time your child has grown into a toddler, he is poised for an explosion of linguistic ability. Toddlers start to speak, pronounce words, and string words together for the first time. They start by combining two words and advance quickly to simple sentences. Longer sentences and ideas follow, and toddlers soon learn that they are capable of communicating their needs, wants and also their opinions. It is during this period that pediatricians watch for important milestones in order to assess if there is a delay or any warning signs of speech problems in children.

Encouraging Language Development
Listen to your child and attempt to understand his message. Rather than correcting him, restate his words if he uses the wrong pronoun or form of a word. The last thing you want to do is discourage your child from honest attempts at communication. By restating your child's words, you will show him that you understand and appreciate what he is saying, while still giving him the motivation to improve his grammar.

Speak to your child with whole words, and don't repeat her babyish speech patterns, but continue to speak properly and model good language. You might be tempted to communicate with your child on what you consider to be his level. This is a mistake. Remember that a major part of language acquisition is mimicry. If you speak correctly, so will your child.

Read to your child as much as possible, and discuss the story, characters, and pictures as you read. Sing nursery rhymes and songs with hand motions. Have fun. Make reading seem like an adventure rather than a chore to keep your child interested.

Sing the alphabet, and point out letters in books to encourage reading readiness and interest. Your child's mind is still making associations between patterns and things. If you point them out to your child, he will learn to comprehend them much more quickly. Reading to your child and showing him how letters work will help him to read on his that much more quickly.

Encourage the toddler to use words to describe his feelings, wants and thoughts. Help her learn appropriate use of language for relating to others and solving conflicts. It's important to demonstrate to your child that words are not used only to represent concrete things but ideas and feelings, too.

Language Development Delays
If your child is learning language more slowly than is usual, several things could be at fault. He might suffer a hearing impairment or speech and motor skills development issues. There might have been delays in physical, intellectual, psychological or emotional development due to congenital factors or outside stress.

If you suspect a delay, have your child assessed by your pediatrician, and referred to a specialist in language development if needed. Early intervention can help correct delays and solve problems before they cause issues when the child reaches school age.

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