Expressive Language Development (Talking)

August 26, 2019 No Comments

What is ‘Expressive Language’?

Expressive language is any verbal, spoken language that we use.

How do I know if my child is experiencing difficulties using spoken language?

If your child presents with any of the following, they may be experiencing expressive language difficulties:

  • He/ she struggles to learn and recall new vocabulary
  • He/ she struggles to combine words together
  • He/ she struggles to put words in the correct order
  • He/ she presents with difficulties applying grammatical rules (e.g. incorrect use of pronouns, inconsistent use of verb tenses)
  • He/ she struggles to sequence their ideas and to retell stories

Why might my child have difficulty using spoken language?

Some children struggle to use spoken language due to:

What should my child be able to say?

Birth – 12 Months:

Receptive Language Development - Baby
0-3 Months
  • Your baby will ‘coo and goo’ when content
  • Your baby will frequently cry especially when they are unhappy or uncomfortable
  • Your baby’s cries will change dependent on the situation
4-6 Months
  • Your baby will start babbling at this age & it will sometimes sound as if they are ‘talking’. This ‘speech-like’ babbling includes many sounds including e.g. p, b, w, m
  • Your baby will make sounds back when spoken to
  • Your baby will vocalise or gesture to get your attention
7-12 Months
  • The sound of your baby’s babbling will change. This is because it now includes more consonants, as well as long and short vowels
  • Your baby will use speech and other sounds (i.e. other than crying) to get your attention and to hold on to it
  • Your baby will start using single words, although they are not likely to be spoken clearly

1 – 2 Years:

  • Your child will start to copy gestures & words used by adults
  • Your child will use intonation, pitch & changing volume when ‘talking’
  • Your chill will have developed 50+ words at this stage; however these words will most likely still be unclear
  • Your child will start to put 2-3 word phrases together to comment on what they are doing or to ask questions (e.g. “more juice”, “push car”)
  • Your child’s speech will start to become clearer as they develop a wider range of initial consonants

2 – 3 Years:

Receptive Language Development - Child
  • Your child’s vocabulary is growing by the day! They will now be using up to 300 words & their vocabulary will now include descriptive language (e.g. time, function)
  • Your child will now be putting 2 – 4 word phrases together & family members will typically understand them
  • Your child will now start to use pronouns (e.g me, he) & prepositions (e.g. in, on, under)

3 – 4 Years:

  • Your child is now using sentences containing 4+ words
  • Your child will talk about what happened during the day & enjoys telling longer stories
  • Your child will start using the simple future & past tense; however they will still struggle to use irregular tenses (e.g. “I goed to school”)
  • Your child will start to ask “when” and “how” questions
  • Your child will start to use rhyming words (e.g. hat- cat)
  • Your child’s speech is typically fluent & clear and unfamiliar people can understand what your child is saying most of the time

4 – 5 Years:

  • Your child will now be using well-formed & detailed sentences; however there may still be some grammatical errors
  • Your child will start using sentences that contain more than one action word (e.g. “Sarah gots two dolls, but I got one”
  • Your child will now be able to communicate easily with familiar adults & children, and they will be able to keep conversations going
  • Your child can tell a long, imaginative story & can stick to the topic
  • Your child will frequently ask for the meaning of unfamiliar words



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