Your child is one! And has already developed into an individual with a very distinct character and a lot of knowledge – albeit on a subconscious level – about language and communication. From now on, their focus is mainly on practicing speaking real words. Read on to learn more about how language development continues.
During these months, children are getting better at communicating, they learn more sounds and also use them in combination with gestures. Your child mainly learns from what you say and often already understands what short sentences, such as “Give it to daddy”, mean.
When you talk a lot, this gives your child the opportunity to learn plenty of new words. Although they are not yet able to say these words themselves, all the words and matching images are stored in their long-term memory. However, this memory is still under development and repetition is necessary to help train it.
From the age of 15 months on, children become increasingly more adept at using language to communicate what they want. Your child is likely to use short words, facial expressions and body language more and more to convey something. For example, think of “no” as they push away their plate of food, or “that” if they want to take something.
Difficult words cannot yet be properly uttered by most children at 16 months. Do not try to correct your child when they use a wrong word, but instead respond enthusiastically and use the correct word yourself in your response. For example, say “Oh yes, I see, an aeroplane!” instead of “No, that’s not a ‘pane’, that’s an aeroplane”.
Reading simple books with pictures out loud to your child is a good way to help them with language development. They often know exactly what word is going to come. Singing songs is also good for your child’s language development. Songs about body parts are especially popular around this age, because children can indicate where, for example, their nose is.
By the time they are 18 months old, children know an average of 20 words. You will therefore probably notice that your child can also make themself heard more and more. Your child’s vocabulary will expand further to an average of 30 words towards 19 months of age. They are now learning about six new words a day. They don’t necessarily use all of these words directly themselves, but they are stored in their memory. Your child also notices that their ability to talking is improving and therefore likes to chat all day long.
Some letters in words can still be difficult to pronounce, especially letters that require muscles in the back of the mouth, such as ‘r’ and ‘k’. If your child doesn’t seem to talk as much as other children of this age, don’t worry. Some children are still busy practicing during this phase and first store all their language knowledge in their memory. Parents/guardians are often surprised that their child suddenly has a vast vocabulary, when they said next to nothing at first.
During this period, your child’s vocabulary continues to grow, and expands to at least 50 words around the 20-month mark. They are mainly nouns, such as ‘house’, ‘car’ and ‘cat’. You may also notice that, at this stage, your toddler starts to categorise words and use a particular word for everything in that category. For example, they will say ‘car’ for all vehicles, or ‘cat’ for all animals. Most children also practice more and more with two-word sentences, such as ‘daddy car’ during this period.
Due to their expanding vocabulary and their interest in applying language even better, children of this age want to be involved in the conversation. Your child may therefore try to attract attention when you have a conversation. Be aware of this and involve your child in the discussion. They will love it and learn a lot from it.
Your 21-month-old toddler is now busy training their memory. A picture of a cow is not only recognised in that one book, but also in other books or even as cuddly toys and is often accompanied by “moooooo”. The two-word sentences are also slowly being tested further. For example, your child will increasingly say things like “baby now?” or “cat gone”.
Children are also increasingly focused on interaction, both non-verbal and verbal. And where your child used to be mainly interested in adults and how they use language, the interaction now extends to other children as well. More and more often they have short conversations together, often crouching, looking at each other with their heads tilted. Your child will therefore enjoy practicing the names of other children together with you during this period.
Although your child learns a lot in terms of language, it is probably not enough as far as they are concerned. They still cannot express themselves as well as they would like and this can cause them to feel frustrated, which can be accompanied by tantrums.
The average number of words a 24-month-old knows is 100. And new words are added every day. Self-awareness also grows further through language during this period. For example, your child will use the word ‘me’ more often and will also understand what it means.
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