Language Development

When a child has a language learning disorder, s/he has difficulty understanding and using language to communicate. Characteristics may include problems comprehending vocabulary, improper use of words and their meanings, inappropriate sentence patterns, and difficulty following directions or staying on topic. The following chart provides general guidelines as to what you can expect your child to understand and say by certain ages.

(general guidelines)

Age Receptive Language Expressive Language
3-6 months Responds to sounds by looking toward sound source. Babbles. Practices sounds. Vocalizes back when talked to.
6-12 months Responds to requests..e.g. “come here”. Looks at pictures. Understands gestures. Babbling sounds like real speech. Plays  simple games such as “pat-a-cake”. Vocalizes to get attention.
1 to 2 years Follows commands e.g. “Put the truck in the box”. Can point to body parts such as nose and mouth. Recognizes pictures of objects. Listens to rhymes and songs. Says first words and names objects. Repeats phrases e.g. “All gone”. Once a child has 50 words, 2 word sentences emerge (e.g. “Where kitty”, “What’s that?”)
2 to 3 years Identifies objects by function (e.g. “Which one do we play with?”). Understands prepositions and adjectives, e.g. “in”, “on”, “big”, “little” When approx. half of a child’s utterances are 2 words, 3 word sentences emerge. Vocabulary builds to around 900 words. Adjectives, prepositions, pronouns.
3 to 4 years Listens to stories. Follows 2 step commands. Can match and sort objects. Remembers recent events. Asks a lot of questions. Tells stories, shares ideas. Vocabulary increases to 1500 words. Uses most parts of speech.
4 to 5 years Comprehends 2500 words. Understands common opposites. Follows 3 part commands. Enjoys books. Tries to “read” them. Can re-tell a story using picture clues. Uses complete sentences. Uses how and where questions. Talks about imaginary things. Categorization skills.
5 to 6 years Comprehends 4000 words. Understands time concepts, humour, plot, surprise. Can sequence 4 pictures to make a story. Tells several things about an object. Sequences. Imaginative language in play. Likes to pretend and act out stories. Uses possessives, negatives, conjunctions, irregular plurals, and complex sentences.
6 to 8 years Understands riddles. Anticipates story endings. Is interested in current events. Wonders about abstract concepts, such as how things work. Understands some figurative language. Gives short oral reports. Uses details in description. Uses most irregular verb forms. Creates conversation suggested by picture. Names days, months, numbers in serial order.
1991 Communication Skill Builders, Inc.