Stages of Speech Development

Typically children pass through similar stages in their acquisition of speech and language but they do so at varying rates. All ages on this chart therefore serve as a guide only.

12-18 months

• Understands a few single words

• Initiates communication using eye contact, smiling, pointing, gesture and vocalisations

• Simplified sound system - consonants such as m n p b t d w

18-24 months

• Understands many single words

• Uses a range of single words

• Simplified sound system as above

2.0-2.6 years

• Understands 2 key word instructions (e.g. Give the cup to the teddy)

• Can identify everyday objects by their use (e.g. Which one do you eat with?)

• Uses 2 word phrases

• Sound system extending - consonants include k g h

2.6-3.0 years

• Understanding of 3 key word instructions is emerging (e.g. Put the cup in teddy's box).

• Uses 3 word utterances

• Starting to use f and s sounds

3.0-4.0 years

• Consistently follows instructions containing 3 or more key words (e.g.Give teddy the big plate).

• Links 4 or more words together in a sentence

• Large vocabulary (500-1000 words)

• Consonants like v z sh ch are used

4.0-5.0 years

• Follows instructions containing four or more key words

• Understanding of complex grammatical structures (e.g. negatives, tenses)

• Uses a variety of WH questions (e.g. Why, When)

• Uses linking words like (e.g. because, but, if, so)

• Wide vocabulary including words for abstract concepts

• Consonants like r th and sound blends like sp kr gl are used

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