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Top Tips for Early Language Vocabulary Expansion

Ever wonder how many exposures children required to learn a new word? For a child with mild language impairment, did you know that it takes at least 45-50 exposures in order to learn a new word?

When it comes to vocabulary, there are two main “tiers”– Tier 1 vocabulary and Tier 2 vocabulary. Tier 1 contains approximately 8000 words and include basic concepts including words like “under” “orange” “empty” “rectangle” “heavy” “first” “last” “mother” “jump” “finished” etc!

Here are our top 6 tips for parents to use to expand their child's use of Tier 1 words!

1. Weave diverse vocabulary in daily routines and conversation, such as during bath time you could model and use words such as “under” “duck” “we” “dry” “full bath” “empty bath” etc.

2. Avoid only giving directions – “get your book” “brush your teeth” etc. Rather think about having meaningful two-way conversations with children, as this is a wonderful way for them to learn, hear, and use vocabulary that has been exposed to them in varied contexts.

3. Collect objects and use them in discussion. For example, if you are going outside, you could collect pebbles, flowers, leaves and sticks. Make it fun but also use the words meaningfully, for example: “the pebble is dirty” “the pebble is in the box”

4. Be a sports commentator! When your child is doing something, comment on what they are doing – “oh you are picking a flower” ”the flower is on the floor” etc!

5. Play play play! Encourage back and forth play that requires turn taking. Play games which also requires turn taking and following rules and expectations.

6. Listen to and read stories. Here parents can incorporate a number of strategies during book such as; Letting the child hold the book and turn the pages Ask questions relating to objects or characters in the book Using varied words (avoiding just naming the pictures in the book but also exposing children to describing words, action words and location words). Expanding your child’s message but adding to what they say.

MEANINGFUL and MULTIPLE exposures to words is key to vocabulary expansion!

Speech Pathologists work with children who are lacking in receptive and expressive language skills, which includes limited vocabulary knowledge and use. Speak to us today to find out how we can help.


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