It’s not uncommon to hear that, usually, girls have superior linguistic skills than boys, and for some time it wasn’t clear why or how their brains differed. In 2008, researchers were able to study brain activity in girls and boys and the results showed that the brain areas associated with language work harder in girls during language tasks because, in fact, they rely on different parts of the brain to complete these tasks.
This study, conducted by researchers from Northwestern University, provided clear biological evidence of the differences in language processing between girls and boys. Researchers measured brain activity in 31 boys and 31 girls between the ages of 9 to 15, while they performed language tasks like spelling and writing. Sometimes, the tasks were visually presented and the children had to read the words, and sometimes the cues were auditory. The found that girls’ language areas of the brain were significantly more active than boys’. Meanwhile, in the boys’ brains they found that their visual and auditory cortex were doing most of the work. Their findings suggest that language processing is more sensory based for boys, and more abstract for girls.
There was probably a point in which you were the only one that could decipher what your little one was trying to say –it might even have been not so long ago! With time and practice, your daughter’s pronunciation is getting better and better, making it easier for other people to understand her!
This milestone, like many others, is reached gradually –people won’t be able to understand what your little one is trying to say overnight. For most children, this happens around their third birthday, but there is a lot of variation when it comes to language development at this age, so you may notice it evolving before or after that. This milestone is not only exciting for you and the people who can now understand your kid, it’s important because it plays a key role on a social and emotional level as well. Being able to communicate with the rest of the world will open doors for your daughter and a lot of learning will come with that!
As your preschooler’s vocabulary expands, he’s able to understand more complicated language about different topics. Your little one is also able to grasp the meaning of longer and more complex sentences, like a set of instructions with three steps. Sometimes though, the difficult part is getting your toddler’s attention so that he actually listens to what you’re saying. Listening is an important skill that is completely interwoven with language development and, like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and perfected.
Here are a few things you can try at home that might help your son (and you!) out:
Speak in clear and simple sentences. Even though, as we stated before, your preschooler can now understand more complex sentences, if you’re having trouble getting him to follow instructions, try making them shorter or have him do them in parts.
Make eye-contact. When talking to him about something important or when giving him instructions, it’s a good idea to get down on his level and make eye-contact. This will help you make sure you’ve got his attention. Once you do, then proceed with your conversation.
Make your expectations clear. Sometimes we feel that we’ve explained ourselves a thousand times to our kids, but we really haven’t or maybe not in a way that they understood. Let your son know your plans ahead of time, make your expectations clear so that he knows what’s coming and what he’s expected to do.
Practice listening through games! Enhance your little one’s listening skills by making him notice a sound that’s far away. For example, ask him to listen to the garbage truck passing by. Can he hear it? Sit still and listen quietly yourself so that he can follow your example. Take turns pointing out different sounds you can make out.
You’ve probably been told that the best way to stimulate your little one’s language development is by talking to her all the time. And that advice is sort of true. Research has shown that kids who hear more words from their caregivers have better language skills and academic performance. But a more recent study found that it’s the way you interact with your child that makes the difference.
The study, led by Dr. Kathy Kirsh-Pasek of Temple University, looked at 60 low-income families and how the parents interacted with their children when they played or read a book. Researchers watched recordings of 60 mothers playing with their two-year-olds and they counted how many words the little ones heard during the interaction. They then compared those interactions to the children’s language skills when they turned three. They found that the quality of interactions between parents and children mattered more than the number of words they heard. Continue reading →
A child’s first words normally consist of nouns –whether it’s mama, dada, or ball– because they represent a person or thing. During their second year of life, however, children usually begin incorporating verbs or action words like go, come, and play to their vocabulary.
This is an important milestone for language development, because it means that a child is ready to begin building early sentences. There’s a lot of variability in language acquisition and how many verbs children use when they are 2-3 years old. Regularly, children can say at least a few verbs by the time they turn two and this number increases continually.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure your son’s growing vocabulary includes verbs:
Keep track of the verbs your child already understands and says. Making a list is a good idea! That way, you can emphasize the verbs he is still learning and keep track of the ones he already uses.
Think of things your little one likes to do and the action words that describe them. Then use those words while doing that activity! For example, if he likes to play with blocks, you can use the words build, topple, and fall to describe what he’s doing.
When you do an action use the verb in a sentence. Remember that verbs are action words and that means you can actually show your son what they mean. This will help him understand and remember the word.
Repeat those words a lot! Children need to hear new words many times before they begin to use them themselves. Try to use new verbs several times when completing an activity, and then use it again the next time you do that same activity. It’s important to be constant!
Emphasize verbs when reading a story. When you’re reading together, try to emphasize the actions that the characters are doing and talk to your little one about them.
Research shows that the number of words used by a child is directly related to later academic success. So, having a broad vocabulary can help your little one be prepared for school and life in general! Around age two, children’s vocabulary expands significantly, reaching up to fifty or more words. Then, by age three, they have an active lexicon of three hundred or more words since, in average, a child has the capacity to acquire four to six words per day.
Want to help your daughter learn new words? Here’s a few things you can try in your daily interactions:
Let her take the lead. When you’re interacting with her, first, observe what she’s doing and what she’s interested in. Then, wait for her to communicate with you and, finally, listen actively to what she’s saying. She’ll be more motivated to interact when she gets to start a conversation.
Follow her lead. Once she’s communicated what she’s interested in, follow her lead and respond accordingly. Comment on what she has to say or join in on the fun yourself!
Use gestures. Gestures are a great tool for learning new words. When you use them, it helps your daughter see and understand the meaning of certain words.
Read. Reading books is a perfect way to expand her vocabulary. While you’re reading, make connections between what’s happening in the story and your child’s life. Also, after you’ve encountered a new word in a book, use it again during the day. That way, she will begin to remember it.
Talk about abstract things. Talk to your toddler about her feelings, past experiences, or even imaginary things. Be creative and go beyond what’s right in front of your eyes.
With time and practice you’ll get to the point where you’ll want to slow your little chatterbox down for a bit. Never stop being amazed by her development!
As children develop their language skills, they learn how to pronounce different sounds. Some of those are harder than others, and it’s normal for little kids to have difficulty saying certain words correctly.
Speech develops over time and with a lot of practice! That’s part of the whole process. So, if you notice your little one is having trouble pronouncing a specific sound, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Most children learn to pronounce all word sounds correctly by the time they turn 8 years old (so there’s still a lot of time for your daughter to get it right!).
It may be harder for you to understand what your child is saying if she’s having trouble pronouncing certain phonemes (the particular sounds that make up words). Commonly, some of the difficult sounds to master are:
It’s common for children to swap sounds in words that contain sounds they can’t pronounce. For example, your little one might say “wed” instead of “red” or “dea” instead of “tea”. This can make it difficult for you or others to understand what she is trying to say and that, in turn, can be very frustrating for your daughter. Try your best to figure out what she’s trying to say and don’t correct her every time –she’ll get even more frustrated and maybe become reluctant to speak later on. The best thing you can do is be a good role model: speak slowly and clearly, so that your little one can learn by listening to you.
Children can learn to speak more than one language at the same time. Being bilingual has many advantages. These include having a broader vocabulary, having better literacy skills, being able to categorize words, being better at problem solving, and even listening to and connecting with others. Speaking two languages is just like learning any other skill. You need practice to master it!
Sometimes children can speak both languages with ease, or they may have one they know better: their dominant language. As time passes, the dominant language can switch. For example, it’s common for kids who speak one language at home to switch to the one they teach at school as their dominant language once they begin attending classes.
Your daughter learns about language through everyday moments with you, her caregiver. Reading books, engaging in conversations, and playing help, but what can you do specifically to support your little one’s language development?
Language skills start developing very early. From birth, babies communicate through sounds and facial expressions. Then they move on to babbling and doing gestures, like pointing to what they want. Babies don’t need to be formally taught anything, they learn through imitation and back and forth interactions with their caregivers.
This is also true for early language and literacy skills, they are best learned through everyday moments. Here’s what you can do at home: Continue reading →
Your little one’s first words were probably extremely exciting. Even more so, listening to his first attempts to put them together and form a sentence. This is a huge milestone in his language development. From two to six-word sentences, find out what’s coming up for your child’s linguistic development and when to expect it.
Between 18 and 24 months, most children begin putting two words together to form a phrase. For example, you might have listened to your little one say “Mommy go” or “My ball”. Whatever phrase he put together, he probably loved repeating it over and over –attempting to get his message across very clearly. But since his pronunciation still had a long way to go, about half of what he said was hard to understand. Continue reading →