Speech and language and how to promote this

Learning to speak and use language is essential to children’s well being. It will enable them to communicate with the people around them, so they can express their feelings, make friends and have fun.

Something to keep in mind is that some children learn to talk quicker than others. So don’t panic if your little one hasn’t started speaking properly yet, it’s unlikely that anything is wrong, more that they’re not quite at that stage yet.

Speech bubble

Image source: flickr.com

As a parent, you play an important role in helping your child learn to speak and use language, so we thought we’d share a few tips on what you can do to promote this.

Parents play an important role in teaching their children to speak and use language.


From 2 years…

At the age of two, your child is officially a toddler and will have a basic understanding of words and phrases that will continue to develop over time.

At this stage toddlers are likely to:

  • Use 50 or more single words like ‘mummy’ and ‘juice’
  • Start putting sentences of two or three words together
  • Ask and understand simple questions
  • Understand between 200 – 500 words
  • Make noises when interacting with their toys
child reading

Image source: flickr.com

Share simple books with your little one to help improve their speech and understanding of language.


Tips for helping your 2 year old speak

Communicate – Talking to your child is essential in promoting their speech and language but singing songs will also prove to be very beneficial, particularly if they are repetitive or have actions to go with the words.

Share picture books – Sharing books with them will also help them to learn the meaning of new words. Picture books are great as children can associate words with certain pictures. Take time to describe the pictures to them and get your little one to repeat them back to you.

Expand on words – Expanding on the words your child says will also help to improve their ability to make sentences. So for example, if your child says ‘juice,’ say back to them ‘juice please’ or ’more juice please’ before passing them their juice. In time, they will start adding these words to make sentences.


From 3 years…

By the age of three, your child will be saying a lot of words and speaking longer sentences. This will be an exciting time for you, as your child will be asking a lot of questions and wanting to learn more about the world around them. You will be able to enjoy proper conversations with them.

At this stage toddlers are likely to:

  • Use descriptive words
  • Put 4 or 5 words together to form a sentence (even if not verbally correct)
  • Listen to and remember simple stories
  • Have proper conversations with people they know well


Tips for helping your 3 year old speak

Keep reading – Continue reading with your child on a regular basis. Rather than just looking at the pictures, you will be able to talk about the story and the characters too. It’s likely your children will have questions about the book you are reading to them.

Repeat correct words – If your child gets a word wrong, rather than asking them to say it again, simply use the right word for them. This will enable them to correct it in their head, so they use the right word next time.

Listen out – Improve your little one’s listening skills by taking time out to listen for sounds. Ask them about what they can hear. You can do this in the home and when you’re out and about.


From 4 years…

At the age of four, children can usually speak lots of words and sentences. Rather than just talking to people they know, they will be able to hold conversations with new people, such as friends at nursery. They will also be able to use their language to problem solve and find out new information.

At this stage your child is likely to…

  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Answer questions
  • Use longer sentences and link sentences together
  • Describe events that have happened
  • Like simple jokes (even if they don’t make sense)
  • Make plans with others
  • Have fairly clear speech, though they may struggle with certain sounds
  • Listen to longer stories and ask questions about what you’ve told them


Tips for helping your 4 year old speak

Ask them questions – Talk about your child’s day and ask them questions. They are likely to be able to tell you what they’ve done and how it made them feel.

Play word games – Ask them to think of words beginning with a certain letter and play around with different sounds. Rhyming is also an important skill, so use games to encourage your child to find words that rhyme.

Keep talking – The single most important thing you can do to assist your child’s speech at any age is to keep talking and communicating with them. The more attention you pay them, the more confident they will feel in using new language in conversation.



Parents are the best possible people to help children learn to speak and use language. Learning these little tips and using them with your child will help them learn to talk, which will not only be rewarding but one of the best things you could possibly do to help your child make a good start in life.

Written by Carly Garrett

Image Credits: Marc Wathieu and Quinn.anya