Toddlers & Language
By this stage as you have already established wonderful conversations with your child, you can now stop talking in ‘motherese’ – the high pitched tone that you used when they were babies. That can impede in their language development in learning how to really talk.
Toddlers need to be spoken to like a real person and not ‘like a dog’ anymore. They are smarter than we give them credit for and absorb everything that is said to them. This is a sensitive period for language in children so take advantage of it and model it properly.
Talk to them not just in one or 2 word sentences but in complete sentences as you would another adult. Ask them question and try to involve them in conversation that requires a reply from them. This is how toddlers will learn language and not just by being given instructions or from watching too much TV. It is the human interaction that gives that extra meaning for the child to learn to communicate. Learning to communicate can decrease frustration in children as they are able to express their needs and feelings too.
Extension in language and sentences are also helpful. Talk to them not just saying it is a ‘ball’ but say that it is a ‘big round orange basketball’ or ‘basketball’. That will set the foundation for toddlers to easily learn vocabulary as they learn language further on. Also if you are aware do not say things that are too generic like a car – say it is a red Porsche!” use real scientific terms, not that it is an elephant but an African elephant if you know it. Do not use baby language as much as possible – use real words. In a Montessori classroom you will find that they will try to use the real medical terms for body parts and bodily functions. It is not a ‘poo’ but a BM (Bowel Movement).
It is also important to listen to them and make them feel like they do have a say since that will also encourage them to talk which often adults can hinder when we over anticipate for them and do not allow conversation to occur. Help the child to move away from grunting then pointing to express their needs. Ignore some of them to encourage them to attempt to speak to you and use words.
When correcting their grammar, do not impugn the child. Instead correct them in a way that is not too obvious or shaming them that they have made a mistake. You do want them to try over and over again to try to talk correctly. One can simply repeat the sentence the toddler made with the correct grammar.