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How do babies and toddlers learn to speak and acquire the knowledge to form sentences and become fluent communicators? Is it a natural skill they acquire or do they need help? Certainly children begin to learn to speak from the very day they are born. However, it is up to parents, to make sure they provide the children with the very best opportunity to learn to speak and communicate well.
How do they learn?
Types of Language
By nine months, babies can understand simple words and commands ('stop', 'come here', etc.) even if they can't speak the words themselves. This is because there are 2 types of language knowledge: Receptive and Expressive language. When we listen we use our receptive vocabulary, when we speak or write we use our expressive vocabulary.
A child's passive vocabulary is improved through continuous repetition of words and phrases. Once repeated enough it becomes part of their passive vocabulary. So, the active vocabulary can only be improved through use of the passive. A child has to hear a word 500 times before it becomes part of their active vocabulary, so a parent needs to speak as much as they can to their children and in front of their children.
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