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In my last blog, we started talking about play and how best to understand a toddler’s communication development. Receptive language is listening and understanding. The other side of language is Expressive Language. Once again, this is a long term. Simply put, it is a toddler being able to express their ideas and thoughts. For example: a toddler may come to you crying. Immediately you ask lots of questions! (what happened, who hurt you, where are you hurt?). Your child must be able to answer your questions correctly (expressive language). When a child expresses themselves, they must be able to use:
  • Correct words (vocabulary)
  • Correct sentences
  • Grammar
Vocabulary is the words your child uses every day, including names, places, people, colours, shapes, letters, numbers etc. It is important that children are learning new words everyday. During development, some children may talk in jibberish or nonsense words. As they develop and learn new words the jibberish should go away. However, if they continue to talk in this nonsense language, it may be because they do not know what words to use and have a limited vocabulary. Sentences are how we put our words together. English is a complex language and there are many types of sentences we use. For example, we use commands “give me the ball”, statements “the sky is blue”, questions “what time is it?” and exclamations “It’s your birthday!!”. Children should develop and learn what type of sentences to use and when they are correct. Grammar means the rules that tell us how to put our words and sentences together. Grammar is often tricky for children to learn. For example, present, past and future tense (I run, I ran, I am running) or pronouns (he/ she/ her/ him). As children move through school, these areas of vocabulary, sentences and grammar become essential for written work such as narratives, procedures or essays. Children also learn the markings in English, such as full stops and capital letters. If a child has difficulties with expressive language in the preschool years, it can have a huge impact on them when they start school and have to express themselves in writing. Parents, remember in play with your toddlers to not only label the names of items, but also model extra vocabulary such as colour, feel, shape, smell of objects. E.g. a teddy is brown, big, fluffy, cuddly, soft- not just a teddy. This will help improve your child’s vocabulary.  Always model full sentences, “the boy is running”, rather than just saying “running”. Expressive Langauge skills are so important! We use them everyday. If you want to know if your child’s expressive language skills are appropriate for their age, look at our webpage checklists and information at Thanks for reading this, you have done your toddler a favour and hopefully learnt something yourself! Next blog, I will be blogging about another essential area of development, SPEECH SOUNDS (PRONUNCIATON). So stay tuned!