Speech and Language Development (Milestones)


Speech and language development begins very early, before a child says his or her first word. Early adult –infant interactions in the forms of facial expressions, vocalizations, and physical contact trigger a domino effect of speech and language acquisition and progression.  Children vary in their development of speech and language, but they follow a natural progression for mastering the skills of language.  The table below demonstrates ranges of language development with age approximations. But, if a child does not master certain skills within a range, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has a disorder.

0-6 months

- Responds to voices, sounds

- Recognizes voices, tones

- Localizes to sounds

- Cries at different pitches to express different needs

- Smiles

- Coos

- Produces phonemes /p,b,m/ in babbling

7-12 months

- Listens when spoken to

- Responds to his/her name

- Understands “no” and common objects (e.g.,  cup)

- Understands some simple commands

- Uses more complex babbling

- Uses speech intentionally

- Uses more gestures to communicate

- Produces first words

13-18 months

- Understands additional  simple commands

- Points to one to three body parts

- Makes more requests

- Speech is unintelligible

- Repeats more

- Has an expressive vocabulary of 5-20 words

19-24 months

- Has a receptive vocabulary of 300 and more words

- Points to pictures in a book

- Understands five body parts and basic categories ( e.g. , food)

- Speech is 25%-50% intelligible to strangers

- Has an expressive vocabulary size of 50-100 words or more

- Names common objects

- Begins to use pronouns ( I, me, you), although may still confuse these

- Begins to use possessives (my, mine)

- Begins to put two word together

2-3 years

- Has a receptive vocabulary of 500-900 words

- Follows 2-step directions

- Identifies more body parts

- Requests objects by naming

- Understands “one” and “all”

- Knows at least three prepositions ( e.g.,  in, on, under)

- Speech is 50%- 75% intelligible

- Has an expressive vocabulary of 50-250 words and more

- Uses 2-4 word phrases

- Uses pronouns :  I, you, me  correctly

- Begins to use some plurals and past tense

3-4 years

- Has a receptive vocabulary of 1,200-2,000 words or more

- Follows 2-3 step directions

- Knows names of familiar animals

- Knows one  or more colors

- Understands opposites (e.g., stop-go)

- Starts to understand past v s.  now

- Speech is 80% intelligible

- Has an expressive vocabulary of 800-1,500 words or more

- Uses at least four prepositions

- Produces 4-5 word sentences

- Uses –am, are, is in sentences

-  Uses regular plurals, possessives and simple past tense verbs consistently

- Uses some regular plurals, contractions, conjunctions , and future tense verbs

4-5 years

- Has a receptive vocabulary  of 10,000 words  or more

- Understands more special concepts

- Understands short stories and can answer simple questions about them

- Follows 3-step commands

- Speech is intelligible to most strangers

- Counts to ten by rote

- Uses more descriptive words

-  States function of common objects

- Produces  4-6 word sentences

- Relates  experiences at school,  etc.

5-6 years

- Follows instructions in a group setting

- Has a receptive vocabulary of 13,000 words or more

- Uses past and future tense appropriately

- Uses conjunctions

- Produces 5-7  word sentences

- Uses more details in sentences

-  Retells  a story

- Counts to 30 by rote

-  Names days of the week

- Asks “how” questions

6-7 years

- Has a receptive language of 20,000 words or more

- Understands most concepts  of time ( e.g.,  before, after)

- Understands left v s. right

- Counts to 100 by rote

- Understands terms such as: alike, different, beginning, end.

-  Does simple reading and writing

7-8 years

- Follows complex directions without repetition

- Uses compound and complex sentences

- Carries on  an adult-like conversation

Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP

Beata Klarowska is an American Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech and language pathologist, licensed by the state of California.Beata cofounded Virtual Speech Center Inc. in 2011 and, to date, has developed more than 30 apps for speech, language, and cognition.


Are speech and language the same?

By Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP

Many adults consider speech and language to be the exact same phenomenon. However, professionals, such as speech pathologists, consider speech and language to be two different systems.


Articulation Carnival app makes speech therapy fun and motivating

By Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP

App for children to practice English speech sounds now available on Apple's iTunes Store.



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