That baby wakes up to English without your help doesn't eat "bread" 🥖
1. Learning to speak
Along with learning to walk, learning to speak is probably the most important and time-consuming step for parents. From first twitters to constructed sentences, the speed at which your child learns to speak can vary from month to month. What is crucial for your child in learning language is first of all his ability to hear and listen. By listening to the “music” of the words, he will be able to make his own attempts to repeat what, for him, are only noises.
In this paragraph we will try to define what is normal and what is less normal in the development of language, and how you can help him to progress in learning to speak. We will also cover some tips for dealing with possible speech problems.
Language development: approximately 1 to 3 months
Speech begins with the first cries, then the gurgles, and all the startling little noises that babies make. During the first few days, you will learn to recognize your child's different cries: when he needs a clean diaper, when he wants to sleep, when he is hungry or others...
Language development: approximately 4 to 12 months
What your baby says won't make sense at this point, even if you think you're guessing "mama" or "papa." Her attempts to speak will actually be a long chirp in baby's language and it doesn't matter which one you speak at home: English, Spanish, Japanese or Urdu. Your child will start to appreciate certain sounds more particularly, because they will be more pleasant to pronounce than others. As their first birthday approaches, your child will start making sounds as if they have meaning. Indeed, he hears you speak and imitates your habits and your language. Your child will also understand simple instructions, such as "Give Mom the book." Singing songs to your child is a great way to help develop their language skills.
Language development: approximately 12-17 months
In this period, you should begin to perceive isolated, identifiable words - these are usually common nouns that are important in your child's world, for example: "cat", "arm", "bottle". His vocabulary will be able to count on average 20 words, even if some children will say much more and others a little less. Your child will also become able to refer to pictures or objects by name. He will also be able to know the names of certain people, objects and body parts that are familiar to him. The words he utters won't always ring true, but don't worry, and above all don't get angry. It will be enough to repeat the word concerned several times and your child will change and improve his way of saying it day after day while growing. If you haven't started yet, try reading to your child regularly and making this special time part of your daily routine. These repeated readings will help him improve his language skills. Your child will also understand very quickly how important it is to talk to get what he wants and his motivation will grow on its own.
Language development: 18-24 months approximately
Your child's vocabulary will probably grow day by day and can reach up to 100 words. Most of the words will be simple nouns, but you'll also start to hear simple two-word phrases, like "more milk" or "in arms". By around age 2, your child should also respond to more sophisticated requests asking for 2 consecutive actions, such as "Sit down and look at your book".
Linguistic development: approximately 25-36 months
Abilities vary a lot during this age group. By the time your child blows out their third candle, they should be able to say up to about 300 words. Nouns, verbs and pronouns will start to be put together to form short sentences, such as: "You're kicking a balloon" or "I'm drinking milk". You will also start to notice that the speech volume is very loud and difficult to control. The closer he gets to his 3 years, the more he improves. Some children will obviously be much more advanced than others, so there is no reason to worry if at the crèche Marie or Gaspard talk a lot more.
Language development: 3-4 years approximately
During this year, children have generally already integrated more than 1,000 words and are beginning to make more complex sentences and to use correct grammar. There will still be a few sounds that may be difficult for your child to pronounce correctly, such as r, z, l, dr, or tr, but he will speak in a way that most people can understand. This is the time when children love stories, jokes and love asking questions about the world around them. They can also give their age.
What can we do as parents to best help our child speak?
We spoke with Emma Citron, Clinical Child Psychologist, and Karen Pine, Developmental Psychologist, who gave us the following expert advice:
- Learn to relax: it is not advisable to worry about the number of words your child says, the clarity of his speech or the length of his sentences.
- Let Them Experience: Taking your child to lots of different places and letting them see and hear people, things and objects is a great way to help them learn.
- Don't talk to him like an adult: Talking to your child like he's 13 won't help him learn. He needs to hear short, childish sentences with lots of variation in your voice to get used to speech.
- Teach simple things: Do simple, fun things like animal sounds. Get their attention and they will start imitating you.
- Talk to her as soon as possible: Babies learn language from birth and even begin to analyze sounds while in their mother's womb.
- Engage in many songs and mimes: Rhymes and songs with gestures are great ways to help your child learn the structure of language. They are also fun ways for parents to interact with their child.
- Don't rely on TV: DVDs won't teach your baby to talk. Nothing can replace a real human face, talking and smiling.
- Use relevant words: Make sure that the words you use are part of his universe and his daily language, such as bottle, diaper, bath, etc...
- Speak slowly and articulate: your child should be able to discern the words you are using, so don't rush your speech.
- Repeat, repeat and repeat again: It can be boring, but singing the same selection of several songs over and over will help your child learn. Likewise, reading the same book over and over again will feel like a brain strain, but this repetition will help your child tremendously.
Teaching Children to Talk: What Are the Signs of Trouble?
Remember that all children develop speech at a different rate. Even if your child doesn't talk as much as their friends, that doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem.
Generally speaking, your child should make sounds, words or phrases that are age appropriate, i.e. one word at around 1 year old, two-word phrases at around around 2 years old and three-word sentences at around 3 years old.
However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional if any of the following apply to your child:
- Your baby is not listening or reacting to sounds.
- Your baby has problems sucking, swallowing or chewing.
- Your baby still doesn't use real words at 18 months.
- Your child has difficulty understanding what you are saying.
- Your child has an unusual voice and/or stutters.
- Your child is still not able to make sentences at two and a half years old.
Additionally, ear infections and/or hearing problems can also cause speech delay, so make sure your pediatrician performs the appropriate hearing checks.
Teaching Children to Talk: When to Really Worry?
"The golden rule is to know what your child can understand," says Emma Citron. It's about knowing if he understands the messages and if he understands what you want to say.
Most importantly, your child can understand more than one commandment in a sentence by age 2.
Emma's advice: even if your child does not speak as well as other children of the same age, as long as he understands "Put on your shoes, go to the garden and take your toys", then there is no no major reason to worry.
2. Speak several languages from an early age
Learning a foreign language or speaking two languages to your baby if you are a bilingual couple will only bring him positive benefits. Indeed, knowing one or two foreign languages is one of the most beneficial things one can do to improve one's chances in life. However, not all people have the same abilities when it comes to learning a new language, which is why it is better to start learning from an early age. Especially since it is at this time that children have time to learn; remember how many books you had to read and essays you had to write before you could write properly in French as you do today. So with an extra language it will take twice as long... Children often have an innate ability to learn things quickly. If you are considering sending your child to a foreign language course, here are some benefits that will hopefully convince you to do so sooner rather than later.
And as a little taste, here is a sheet of the first English words that you can teach your child:
We don't stress it enough but learning a multitude of things when you're young encourages creativity. Children are often quite creative and learning a new language can foster their creativity even more. Being able to speak and write in a language other than their mother tongue will give them plenty of opportunities to learn valuable problem solving skills, and it is well known that problem solving requires imagination. Bilingual children may excel on various tests because they have more confidence and knowledge to think outside the box and apply different problem-solving strategies. Being exposed to a new language is not just about learning new words and complicated grammar rules, learning a second language also includes various information about the country and culture where that language is spoken most, which can foster greater empathy and tolerance towards others. Children are open to prejudice and exposing them to new and exciting things abroad can increase their curiosity and respect for different nationalities and cultures.
Moreover, learning a second language will help them flourish academically and YES! They will at least be able to shine in their LV2 class! Getting great grades may seem like enough, but when it comes to academic achievement, things can get a bit more difficult, because nowadays schools and universities want students who have multiple skills and abilities. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to push your child beyond their limits. However, by motivating them to learn and making them curious, you can significantly improve their chances of being accepted into the best post-baccalaureate courses. This is why giving them a head start can be very beneficial: children aged 3 to 7 are very available, so it is important to give them the chance to learn with good teachers who will support them.
Being able to interact with people in another language will encourage your children to go traveling or at least to socialize more. Speaking a second language can be a really important asset in life, for many reasons. For example, knowing English or Spanish can make them inclined to meet new people and practice conversing in that language. Also, speaking multiple languages can inspire them to travel the world and form many interesting friendships. Visiting different places and engaging with different cultures will definitely help them gain new experiences and become more confident. Having friends of all origins and nationalities is a huge opportunity, so speaking a second language is a great help that will certainly increase their chances of meeting.
Children deserve to have fun and enjoy their childhood. However, teaching them the importance of knowledge can greatly boost their self-esteem. And it will help them meet the challenges they will face as adults. They should also be able to choose their own language, so never force your child to study something they don't like. Finally, never forget to be there for him and to support him in his progress, so that he feels ready to use his language skills when he gets the chance.
3. Sign language, an early means of communication
Many parents practice French sign language (it must be specified because sign language is not the same in all countries) with their children. Indeed from an early age it is possible to teach them and they will be able to communicate with you before they even know how to speak! Super practical to tell you when they need a diaper change or when they are hungry, and it will save you a lot of unnecessary crying. It should be noted, however, that some signs are simplified to make it easier for baby.
To best teach your little wolf this particular language, you will have to be patient because repetition is the key here so that your child learns quickly. You can start at an early age and even when your child is just beginning to express themselves. It can be very difficult for him to say what he wants when he is overwhelmed by strong emotions, so sign language will be a simple and effective way for him to make himself understood.
Here is a little appetizer of the first signs that you can teach your child: