Typical Speech and Language Development

Typical Speech and Language Development
All children develop speech and language skills at their own rate. Although each child is unique in their development, researchers and scholars in the field of speech-language pathology have developed speech and language developmental milestones to help measure children's development. Average ages for achieving these milestones have been determined to monitor developmental progress. To better understand speech and language developmental milestones it is important to understand the difference between speech and language skills. This article will explain the difference between speech and language and provide a time line for typical speech and language developmental milestones from birth to 8-years of age.

What is the difference between speech and language?



It is important to think of speech and language as two separate entities. In the simplest terms: think of language as all of the thoughts and ideas in your mind represented as words and speech as the physical act of producing those words using your mouth.

Technical definitions:

1. Language is a socially shared system of representing ideas through the use of arbitrary symbols and rule-governed combinations of those symbols for the purpose of communication. Symbol types include spoken words, sign language, pictures, etc. Language is broken into three areas: receptive, expressive and pragmatic language skills. Receptive language is the ability to comprehend what others are saying (e.g., ability to follow directions) while expressive language is the ability to use language to express oneself. Pragmatics is the social use of language (e.g., appropriately greeting others, use of eye contact or protesting appropriately).

2. Speech is the verbal means of communicating or conveying meaning. Speech production involves four processes: respiration (coordinating breathing patterns with speech), phonation (voice), resonation (vibration of sounds within the nose, mouth and throat) and articulation (producing speech sounds through the intricate movements of the tongue, lips, teeth, jaw and roof of the mouth). Speech production requires precise coordination and intricate movements of our oral musculature otherwise known as articulation.

Now that you understand the difference between speech and language I will outline some typical speech, language and hearing developmental milestones. Below is a time line of "typical" speech, language and hearing development. The ages listed on the time line have been compiled from several respected, published texts and websites referenced at the end of this article

It is important to note that all children develop at their own rate. Ages and corresponding skills will vary slightly from what is listed on this chart for most typically developing children. If your child is not demonstrating one or more skills in a given age category this does not necessarily indicate a delay or disorder. However, if your child does not demonstrate the majority of skills listed within his or her age category seek the advice of an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist.

Time Line for Speech and Language Development:



1 Month:

  • Responds to voices by quieting.


  • Cries for assistance.


3 Months:

  • Seems to recognize his mother's voice.


  • Responds vocally to speech of others by producing vowel sounds.


  • Cries differently for different needs.


  • Smiles when sees you.


6 Months:

  • Vocalizes pleasure and displeasure.


  • Imitates some sounds.


  • Babbling sounds including: p, b and m .


  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds.


  • Responds to changes in the tone of your voice.


8 Months:

  • Listens to others speech and imitates tonal quality of adult speech.


  • Echoes adult speech.


  • Enjoys socials games such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.


  • Turns and looks in the direction of sounds.



12 Months:

  • Responds to their name.


  • Uses gestures such as pointing and showing.


  • May speak one or more words although they may not be clear.


  • Follow simple requests with gestures ("Come here").


  • Recognizes words for common items like "cookie" and "shoe."


15 Months:

  • Communicates mainly using gestures and sounds.


  • Has a 4-6 word vocabulary ("bye-bye," "dada," "mama").


  • Plays in a solitary manner with a variety of toys like cars, stuffed animals, books, blocks and dolls.


18 Months:

  • Has a vocabulary of 10-20 words.


  • Begins to use two words together ("mommy shoe" meaning "mommy's shoe").


  • Produces more than 5 consonant sounds, like m, w, n, p, and b.


  • Points to some body parts when asked.


  • Follows simple commands ("Give me the ball").


  • Pretend play beginning.


24 Months:

  • Expressive vocabulary of 150-300 words.


  • Uses short incomplete sentences.


  • Uses many different consonant sounds in the beginning of words.


  • Puts many actions together during play like stirring, pouring, scooping, and feeding a doll.


  • Points to pictures in a book when named and listens to simple stories.


  • Learns a few new words each week.


  • Understands simple questions ("Where's your blanket?").


  • Uses pronouns: I and it.


3 Years:

  • 900-1,000 word vocabulary.


  • Creates 2-3 word sentences to talk about and ask for things.


  • Uses simple sentence construction with subject-verb-object format (e.g., "mommy eat cookie").


  • Beginning to use negative words such as no, not, can't, and don't.


  • Beginning to use plural forms of often used nouns and possessive -'s.


  • Uses pronouns: me, my, mine, you, your, she, he, yours, and we.


  • Uses the prepositions in, on, and under.


  • Using -ing and -ed endings; however 3-year-olds over generalize the -ed ending to irregular past-tense verbs, like goed and runned.


  • Able to answer some simple "what" and "where" questions.


  • Follows two-step commands (go in your room and get your shoes).


  • Most 3-year-olds can produce the vowel sounds and the consonants p, m, h, n, w, b, k, g, and d.


4 Years:

  • Asks lots of questions.


  • Most regular and irregular past tense verbs are used correctly.


  • Understands most questions but has difficulty answering "how" and "why."


  • Can retell stories and recent past events.


  • Uses the pronouns: they, us, hers, his, them, her, its, our, him, myself, ours, their, theirs, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.


  • Most 4-year-olds can produce the p, m, h, n, w, b, k, g, d, t, ng, f, and y sounds.


5 Years:

  • Vocabulary of over 2,000 words.


  • Can talk about feelings.


  • Follows 3-step commands.


  • Can play organized games with simple rules.


  • Most 5-year-olds can correctly produce the p, m, h, n, w, b, k, g, d, t, ng, f, y, r, l, s, ch, sh, z, j,and v sounds.


  • They may have difficulty producing consonant blends, as in strong and dress.


6 Years:

  • Able to define objects by function.


  • Uses all parts of speech to some degree.


  • Has well formed sentences of a complex nature.


  • Most 6-year-olds can correctly produce most English speech sounds, adding th and su (as in treasure).


8 Years:

  • Talks a lot.


  • Boasts, brags and verbalizes ideas and problems readily.


  • Most 8-year-olds can correctly produce most consonant clusters such as: str, sl and dr.



References:



  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1997-2009). How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? In www.ASHA.org.Retrieved July 14, 2009. From http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm


  2. Bernthal, J. E., Bankson, N. W. 1993. Articulation and Phonological Disorders (3rd Edition). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.


  3. Owens, R. E. 1996. Language Development: An Introduction (4th Edition). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


  4. The Florida State University Research Foundation. (2007). What Parents have Reported About Their Child's Communication on our Measures. In www.FirstWords.FSU.edu.Retrieved July 14, 2009. From http://firstwords.fsu.edu/parentsReportMeasures.html


  5. The Florida State University Research Foundation. (2007). Infants and Toddlers Grow at an Amazing Rate. In www.FirstWords.FSU.edu. Retrieved July 14, 2009. From http://firstwords.fsu.edu/parentsReportMeasures.html


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