A friend of mine has a toddler; a very verbal toddler. She can and will repeat anything you say, both when you are trying to get her to say it and when you aren’t. In the car the other day, she spontaneously said, “shut up” (something she has overheard being said to the dog at home) and later that afternoon she worked her way through saying “Purplicious!”
This same little girl is in the stage of putting together 2 or more words. She says things like “more please”, “sit down”, and “hold you”. She uses “more please” and “sit down” correctly but she says, “hold you” when she wants YOU to hold HER, she should say, “hold me”. Hearing her say, “hold you” sparked these two questions: how do little kids go from simply repeating words and phrases to making sentences and accurately using language? How can parents help with this transition?
This is a question that I truly didn’t know how to answer so I had to go digging through the literature on language production and development. The results of my search further solidified the need for this type of blog. First off, there is nearly nothing that can be found about language development online that has been created for parents of typically developing children (this is psychological political correctness for “normal” kids). Most of what you find online is how to determine and what to do if your child seems to be delayed with his or her language development. There are charts about milestones and the numbers of words that children are supposed to say by certain ages, but there is hardly anything about how parents can help their children learn language… I could go on forever about what is not out there, but the point is I dug into the literature (the millions of research-based journal articles that have been published in journals that most of the public doesn’t have access to without paying a hefty fee) and found some very wordy, complex, research about language development that I have been struggling to understand. How in the world a mother with a full time job and two kids could find the time and energy to possibly dig up, read, and understand all of this is beyond me. So I’m doing it for you. That is the point of this blog and I’m really glad that I can help translate some of this jargon-filled research into information that parents can actually use and understand.
Since I have been reading a lot of research articles on this topic (and struggling through some of the particularly complex ones), it’s going to take a couple days for me to actually answer this question, but until then here is a very basic “how to” video about teaching your child to talk- but unfortunately it doesn’t answer my original question. And here is another very interesting, scientific video about young children learning to speak- at 3:45 he starts talking about his son’s language development. (Note this video is very long but really interesting if you have the time to watch it)