Your child’s language development: Part 2

Language development skills from day one; explore three different styles of learning your child may engage in.

There are three different styles of learning language: analytic, expressive, and
There are three different styles of learning language: analytic, expressive, and "wait-and-see." Photo by anitapeppers at

Expressive language refers to the words a child can actually say aloud to you. Children usually begin to say their first words around 12 months and typically their first words will be “mama,” “dada” or a variation of the two. By 15 months, they are using one or two words in addition to mama and dada.

There are three different styles of learning language and include: analytic, which is when children break language into small pieces. They learn new words one by one, starting with one-syllable words. The second style, expressive, involves children being in tune with the rhyme of language. They may have big conversations that no one can understand. And lastly, the third style is loosely referred to as “wait-and-see.” This style involves children listening closely for a long time, but not using many words. Then all of a sudden, they jump in with lots of clearly spoken words and add new ones to their vocabulary very quickly.

Expressive language typically begins with nouns and words that have meaning to them, for example “ball” or “bottle,” then names of family members, friends and pets. Even when they begin talking, parents should still continue to use parentese when speaking to them. Parentese is a simpler, shorter, slower type of speaking with much higher pitch than you use with older children and adults. It also involves lots of repeating of words. Babies are especially interested in this type of speech. The pay closer attention to it and learn from it.

Also, talk about what the child is doing. When you begin labeling action words, children quickly begin to realize that words make things happen. This will encourage them to use words themselves. For example, every time you pick up your child say, “Up!”

Your child’s receptive language will develop first and will grow more quickly than their expressive language, so it’s important to know that this discrepancy can lead to lots of frustration. There may be frequent temper tantrums when they are have a difficult time communicating with you. Also, when your child does begin using words, pay attention to how he is using words. At first, he will repeat simple words he hears often and will only use them when prompted. You should notice that he continues to add new words and sounds.

Children should also begin to use words spontaneously, meaning they use words without being prompted. As their language develops, they should be using their words correctly and appropriately. If you have concerns about child’s language development, you should contact their doctor or contact Early On Michigan.

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