Download Word document

How is language learned?

Everyday learning

Learning to communicate and talk is exciting for both children and their parents. Every new parent looks toward the day when their child says their very first word, and although it can take a while until babies develop language skills that allow them to hold full conversations, they actually begin to communicate verbally when they are very young.

In the beginning, babies express their needs by crying. As they grow, babies then begin to try out their voices for more than merely crying, making a series of first sounds that will soon develop into first words. Parents can encourage their baby to learn by talking, reading and singing. Long before they utter their first words, babies are learning about communication speech from listening to the people around them.

Children will learn to talk at different stages. Some say their first word before they are a year old while others may not speak until they are over two. Generally however, children start to talk by 18 months.

Tips

Remember that toddlers can understand what is said long before they use the words themselves. You could try using natural gestures alongside speech to give your child visual clues to aid them with the development of the spoken word.

Stop

Remember that crying is an important way for babies to get their point across.

Think

Before babies can speak, they communicate with you through eye contact, smiling and gurgling.

Do

Your baby learns by hearing and doing, so if you say words and make sounds they will copy them.