What Stages Does A Child Go Through When Learning To Speak?

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Steve Theunissen Profile
From birth through the first month or so the baby's sole vocalization will be crying with little difference in tone no matter what the reason for the discomfort. Then, usually, from the fourth through about the sixteenth week the baby will "coo" and make "laughing" noises. He will produce some (mostly vowel) sounds. The crying will take on differences in tone. (Yes, mother is not just learning what baby means when he cries, baby is varying the tone when he cries.)

At or around the twentieth week what is called "babbling" begins. The baby will string together "chains" of one-syllable sounds that often are the repetition of similar sounds. The child usually enjoys making these and they will include some consonant nasals (such as m, n).

From the sixth month through the ninth the infant's babbling will lead into what is called "sound imitation." This starts as "self imitation," that is, the child repeats the sound he himself made. Later he will begin repeating the sounds that an adult or another child makes to him. (As in the example at the beginning of our article.)

During the tenth through the twelfth months the baby may begin actually to say short words, but normally this is simply repeating what adults have said; it is still imitation.

By the eighteenth month the infant will have a vocabulary of from three or four to fifty words and will increasingly show by voice inflection that they mean something, they identify something. At this time the child may begin to use two-word utterances.

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