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Language development

Language development: voice training before the first word

Language development and learning to speak begin long before your baby speaks the first clear word. Speech development begins with the development of the voice and thus with the first cry. The archaic sounds, i.e. crying, screaming, moaning, chuckling, form the basis for language development. Your child has mastered this from birth.

Communicate without words

Your baby doesn't need words for the first simple communication. It uses gestures, facial expressions, laughing and crying early on to communicate with you. This non-verbal, non-linguistic exchange is the first step in learning to speak (preverbal development phase). You will notice after a few weeks that this connection between you and your child works wonderfully. You can tell what your baby is missing from the sound of screaming: Is it hungry, tired or is it just bored?

Before children learn to speak properly, they try out their voices in a playful way: they try out which sounds can be produced in the interplay of lips, tongue tip, soft palate and the back of the throat.

Language development: when do children start to speak their first words?

Language development is part of mental (cognitive) development. As with every developmental step, each child learns to speak at a different speed. When children start to speak cannot therefore be answered in general. In addition, the transitions between onomatopoeia and the first recognizable words are fluid.

Different pace of development

The point at which babies speak their first words therefore varies greatly. Some children get their first understandable word out of their mouth when they are around eight months old, while others do not speak until they are over a year old. Children seem to focus on one thing: some learn to speak first, others walk!

Baby's first words

Baby's first words are closely linked to his environment and his everyday life. Expressions such as "da" or "on" are particularly popular at the beginning. In addition to social words such as "Bye" or "Hello", there are mainly things and people from his immediate everyday life.

These are mostly so-called names: Mama, Papa, the name of brother or sister, ball, dog or cat. The first verbs of course also describe processes with which it is confronted on a daily basis, such as "sleeping", "eating" or "running".

Phases of language development

Language development in the child progresses month by month. The phases of language development can be easily observed in the first year: first reactions to voices and noises, first sounds and maybe even baby's first words. By one year, most toddlers can master around 50 words. After that, language development progresses rapidly: two-year-old children already have a vocabulary of up to 200 words and 6-year-old children have already learned about 6000 words.

Language development in the child: table

The following table provides an overview of the milestones in language development in a child who grows up monolingual.


Language development from the 3rd year of life

The language development of three-year-old children is far from complete. Up to the fifth birthday, vocabulary and grammar will continue to develop, pronunciation will noticeably improve and general language skills and performance will increase. Children use colors, pronouns, present and future, subjunctive and more complicated subordinate clauses ("because", "if") more and more confidently and they get better and better at telling.

Delayed language development

If the individual phases of language development occur with a significant delay (more than 6 months later), there may be a language development disorder. As a rule, this is noticeable in the U-examinations at the pediatrician.

Promote language development

Intensive communication between parents and child is the most important contribution to promoting language development in the baby. It happens all by itself. You can intuitively lower the pitch and speak softly when you want to calm your child down, or increase the volume when you warn them of danger.

The following behavior promotes language development in the child:

  • Comment and react to sneezing, coughing, laughing or chuckling: Positive feedback on their sounds encourages the child to repeat and they enjoy experimenting with their voice.
  • Rhythmic and melodic skills are important foundations for the acquisition of language: Simple singing games and rhymes shape perception and shape the brain.
  • Soft, slow, stressed language: "Baby language" is definitely helpful for language development at the beginning.
  • Babies love the human voice and would rather hear mom or dad hum than listen to the music box.
  • Change of attention between object and parent (triangulation): Search and naming games with picture books ("How does the dog do?") Or dressing rituals ("Where is the foot?") Encourage this.
  • Children learn in conversation: To emphasize the meaning of a word, it should be at the end of the sentence ("Gaga makes the DUCK").
  • The further the child's language development has progressed, the more important corrective feedback is (correct repetition, but without evaluation and criticism!).

Parents support their child intuitively

The individual points highlight what most parents use intuitively: They automatically respond to their child's language skills. Promoting language development happens all by itself. Learning to speak is, however, a thoroughly social act. A lack of interpersonal exchange impairs language development in the child: Mutual imitation and repetition, naming and commenting are important in order to learn to speak correctly.

Language development: important prerequisites

A functioning voice and oral motor skills are important prerequisites for smooth language development in children. That means the mouth, lip, jaw, roof of the mouth and facial muscles must be fully functional.

In addition, of course, normal hearing is required. If the hearing works, the baby can already hear in the mother's womb from the 5th month. In this way, it learns the tonality of the mother tongue in the womb. It learns to distinguish the mother's voice from others and to know emotions such as anger, stress and joy.

How far newborns are in their speech development shortly after birth can be seen from the following observations: Newborns prefer the speech melody (prosody) of their mother and can distinguish speech sounds from other noises. When it comes to language development, especially in the first year, the language melody and the emphasis are more important than the actual word.

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