What Is Expressive Language?

Expressive language refers to how your child uses words to express himself/herself. Expressive language includes the meaning of words, making new words, putting words together to form sentences, and the ability to select what words should be used based on the situation.

Contact our office for more information on phonology or to schedule a free screening!

 

Using words and sentences

Children begin to babble and use consonant sounds between 6 and 12 months old. First words generally begin to appear between 10 and 12 months, along with ‘baby-talk’ or ‘jibber-jabber’. By 18 months, children should be able to use approximately 50 single words. As a child turns 2 years old, he will begin to combine words into 2-3 word phrases, such as ‘my ball’, ‘got it’, or ‘more please’. From ages 3 to 5 years, a child will begin to combine 3-5+ words into well-formed sentences.

Higher Language Learning

Higher level language skills include the ability to answer questions, form grammatically correct sentences, use a variety of word forms (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc.), maintain topic in conversation, use a wide variety of vocabulary, etc. Children who struggle with higher level language often have difficulty answering questions and participating in reciprocal conversations.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is often part of social language, or pragmatics. This includes a child’s ability to make requests and communicate using his or her hands, space, or body language. Non-verbal communication can include pointing, gesturing, eye gaze, signing, making facial expressions, using body language (shrugging, sad/happy face), creating distance between a speaker, etc. Pointing and gesturing is how a child will first indicate his/her wants and needs. These cues generally fade as a child begins to use words rather than gestures by 2 years old. As a child becomes older, he or she will use non-verbal communication paired with words in order to effectively communicate a point (i.e. shrugging when sad).

Milestones

​Birth – 3 Months

Makes pleasure sounds; cries differently for different needs; smiles when sees people

3 – 6 Months

Babbles sounds including “m, b, p;” laughs; vocalizes excitement and displeasure; makes gurgling sounds; establishes eye contact

6 – 12 Months

Babbles with strings of sounds; uses speech and/or non-crying sounds to gain and keep attention; uses gestures to communicate (e.g. waving, holding out arms to be picked up); imitates speech sounds; uses one or two words

1 – 2 Years

Has a vocabulary of 50 words by 18 months and 200-300 words by 2 years; begins asking “what’s that;” uses rising intonation to ask questions; says more words every month; pairs gestures with words; uses some one or two word questions (e.g. “Mommy?” or “Where ball?”); uses social words “hi” and “bye;” engages in verbal turn taking; puts two words together; uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

2 – 3 Years

Has a vocabulary of 1,000 words by 3 years; asks simple “where, what/what doing” questions; has a word for almost everything; uses two and three-word phrases; uses sounds “k, g, f, t, d, n;” speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time; ask for or directs attention to objects; makes conversational repairs; may stutter on words/sounds

3 – 4 Years

Has a vocabulary of 1,600 words by 4 years; asks “why;” asks questions using “what, where, when, how, whose;” inverts auxiliary verbs and subject when asking questions (e.g. “Where is mommy”); talks about activities at school or home; people outside the family usually understand the child’s speech; answers simple “who, what, where” questions; asks “when” and “how” questions; says rhyming words; uses pronouns, uses regular plurals; uses sentences with 4 or more words; talks easily without repeating syllables or words

4 – 5 Years

Has a vocabulary of 2,200-2,500 words by 5 years; asks questions with accurate grammatical structures including “Do you; Are we going to” and “Can you;” says all speech sounds in words (errors may persist on “l, s, r, v, ch, sh, th”); responds to “what did you say?;” names letters and numbers; uses sentence with more than one action; tells a short story; keeps conversation going; talks in different ways depending on the listener and the environment

5 – 6 Years

Has a vocabulary of 2,600-7,00 words by 6 years; uses word plays; uses threats and promises; asks meaning of words; asks questions to gain information; announces topic shifts; is understood by familiar and unfamiliar people

Contact Us

Contact us today to find out how we can support you in reaching your optimal communication needs.