A Summary of the First 2 Years

Hoff (2009) describes the general timeframe for which infants learn language and develop speech. Amazingly, most babies follow the same developmental pattern and timeframe when they are learning language.

Around the age of 9-months-old, babies begin to use canonical babbling,also known as reduplicated babbling (Hoff, 2009). This kind of babbling includes consonant-vowel repetitions. An example of reduplicated babbling might be [mama] or [baba].

The next period of speech development is called nonreduplicated babbling, also called variegated babbling (Hoff, 2009). This is different from canonical babbling because it is not the repetition of the same syllable,or consonants and vowels, over and over again. An example of nonreduplicated babbling might be [bada]. Another interesting aspect of this period of speech development is that infants use more intonation (Hoff, 2009). This leads them into the next part of language acquisition.

Infants sometimes use so much intonation that it almost sounds as if they were speaking like an adult, but there is no meaning. This is called jargon and it is the last stage before a child speaks his first word (around the age of 1-year-old) (Hoff, 2009).

When an infant says his first word, though, that is just the beginning. Around the age of 1 1/2-years-old, a baby will typically have about 50 words in his productive, or expressive, vocabulary (Hoff, 2009). At this time, many children are said to go through a vocabulary spurt, which is when they start to learn words and names at a very fast pace (Hoff, 2009). Infants learn so quickly, and it seems as if the vocabulary spurt is a major milestone for when they increase their learning.

Hearing and Understanding

0-12 months:

  • Startled by loud noise (0-3 mo)
  • Increase or decrease in suckling rate in response to sound (0-3 mo)
  • Pays attention to music (4-6 mo)
  • Responds to changing vocal intonation (4-6 mo)
  • Recognizes common words and begins to respond to requests (7-12 mo)
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds (7-12 mo)

1-2 years:

  • Follows simple commands
  • Responds to simple questions
  • Can point to illustrations in books when named

2-3 years:

  • Understands semantic differences
  • Follows requests
  • Enjoys listening to extended stories

3-4 years:

  • Hears parent call from another room
  • Answers simple questions (who, what, where, why)

4-5 years:

  • Can pay attention to and answer questions about simple short stories
  • Hears and comprehends most of what is said in the home and at school

Speaking

0-12 months:

  • Coos (0-3 mo)
  • Has distinct cries for distinct needs (0-3 mo)
  • Babbling, commonly with bilabial plosives (4-6 mo)
  • Vocalizes both excitement and displeasure (4-6 mo)
  • Babbling has developed to include short groups of sounds, and has one or two words(7-12 mo)
  • Uses gestures to communication (7-12 mo)

1-2 years:

  • Increasing vocabulary
  • Use of one or two word questions
  • Combines words
  • Use of many different consonant sounds in initial word position

2-3 years:

  • Introduction of [k], [g], [f], [t], [n]
  • Speech can be understood most of the time
  • Has word for most objects and enjoys naming them

3-4 years:

  • Persons outside of family can understand speech
  • Talks about daily activities
  • Sentences include 4+ words, and syllabes not often repeated

4-5 years:

  • Uses detailed sentences
  • Says most sounds correctly, with exception of approximates and affricates
  • Uses familial grammar
  • Tells on-topic stories

Check out What Does it all Mean to see how this compares to the sign language acquisition milestones of children with hearing impairments and the different factors that can affect language acquisition.