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Language Learning in Babies and Toddlers


What can a caregiver or parent do to encourage language learning?  They are some easy ways you can incorporate language learning techniques into your everyday routine.

The first skill is called “Motherese”.  We all naturally do this with babies, toddlers and even puppies!  Cocktail party fact:  there is one group in Papua New Guinea that does not use Motherese.  So what is it?  Motherese is the innate way that adults talk to babies.  It is speech that is higher pitched, uses exaggerated consonants, longer vowels and greater variance in volume. 

Another way to speak to your child to encourage language growth is by using “Self-Talk”.  This is describing everything you are doing as you do it.  An example is, “Mommy is folding laundry!  Look at these socks.  They are different colors.  They don’t match.”

There is another strategy called “Parallel Talk”.  This is describing everything your child is doing as they do it.  For example, as your child plays with a car you can say, “You are driving that blue car!  Whee!  Look at the car go down the ramp!”

Finally you can work on turn-taking.  This is responding to your child’s utterances and then pausing letting your baby have a turn to talk or make sounds.  If your baby makes a sound you make a sound in return.  If your baby coos you coo in return. 

Most importantly have fun and follow your child’s lead! 


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