Speech and Language Guidelines

Some approximate guidelines for a child’s speech and language development:

6 to 12 months

  • Vocalisation with changing loudness and tone.
  • Starts to respond to their name
  • Responds to voices without visual clues by turning their head and eyes
  • Responds appropriately to friendly and angry tones in voices
  • Uses one or more words with meaning
  • Understands simple instructions, especially if vocal or physical cues are given
  • Is aware of the social value of speech

12 to 18 months

  • Has vocabulary of approximately 5-50 words
  • Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns
  • Some repeating of words or phrases over and over
  • Jargon such as “Oh dear”, “In the Bin” etc beginning to be used in context
  • Is able to follow simple commands
  • Can name a number of objects common to their surroundings
  • Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under
  • Combines words into a short sentence-largely noun-verb combinations (mean) length of sentences is given as 1.2 words

18 to 24 months

  • Approximately 2/3 of what child says should be intelligible
  • Vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words
  • Rhythm and fluency often poor
  • Volume and pitch of voice not yet well-controlled
  • Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, you (although me and I are often confused)
  • My and mine are beginning to emerge
  • Responds to such commands as “show me your eyes (nose, mouth, hair)”

24 to 36 months

  • Use pronouns I, you, me correctly
  • Is using some plurals and past tenses
  • Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under
  • Knows chief parts of body and should be able to indicate these if not name
  • Handles three word sentences easily
  • Has in the neighborhood of 900-1000 words
  • About 90% of what child says should be intelligible
  • Verbs begin to predominate
  • Understands most simple questions dealing with their environment and activities
  • Relates their experiences so that they can be followed with reason
  • Able to reason out such questions as “what must you do when you are sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?”
  • Should be able to give their sex, name, age
  • Should not be expected to answer all questions even though he understands what is expected

36 to 48 months

  • Knows names of familiar animals
  • Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate their understanding of their meaning when given commands
  • Names common objects in picture books or magazines
  • Knows one or more colors
  • Can repeat 4 digits when they are given slowly
  • Can usually repeat words of four syllables
  • Demonstrates understanding of over and under
  • Has most vowels and diphthongs and the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established
  • Often indulges in make-believe
  • Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities
  • Understands such concepts as longer, larger, when a contrast is presented.
  • Readily follows simple commands even thought the stimulus objects are not in sight
  • Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds

48 to 60 months

  • Can use many descriptive words spontaneously-both adjectives and adverbs
  • Knows common opposites: big/little, hard/soft, heavy/light, etc
  • Has number concepts of 4 or more
  • Can count to ten
  • Speech should be completely intelligible, in spite of some residual articulation problems
  • Should have all vowels and the consonants: m,p,b,h,w,k,g,t,d,n,ng,y (yellow)
  • Should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words
  • Should be able to define common objects in terms of use (hat, shoe, chair)
  • Should be able to follow three commands given without interruptions
  • Should know their age
  • Should have simple time concepts: morning, afternoon, night, day, later, after, while, tomorrow, yesterday, today
  • Should be using fairly long sentences and should use some compound and some complex sentences
  • Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct
  • In addition to the above consonants these should be mastered: f, v, sh, zh, th
  • Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
  • Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships between objects and happenings