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Language Development Milestones: 2-3 Years

Between 2 and 3 years of age your toddler’s language develops very quickly. You may not be able to understand everything they say, but as their language skills develop you’ll begin to understand how they see their world.

Language development at 2-3 years

By the time your toddler is 2 years old they are likely to be using 50 or more different words. Over the next year their vocabulary will probably double as they pick-up and use more and more words every day.

Your toddler will understand and be using lots of different types of words including nouns (such as dog and baby), verbs to describe actions (such as play or walk), adjectives (such as wet and sore) and pronouns (such as you and I).

Language skills develop quickly as they learn to understand what is being said to them, practice the different sounds used in speech and start to master the art of ‘conversation’.

They will also understand and be able to say whether an object is ‘on’ or ‘in’ something, ask questions using words such as ‘what’ and ‘where’, as well as start to understand the difference between concepts such as ‘mine’ and ‘yours’.

Although they may get a little jumbled with their words at times and not always pronounce words correctly they will be happy to keep talking if they feel they are being understood.

By 3 years old a toddler can usually…

  • Understand and be able to follow complex 2-part instructions (such as ‘give me the toy and sit down’
  • Understand what is meant by ‘same’ and ‘different’ and be able to sort items into groups
  • Use four or five-word sentences
  • Be able to say a variety of words for names, actions, locations and descriptions
  • Begin to ask questions using ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’
  • Start talking about something that happened in the past
  • Have a conversation with you – but they may not take turns, keep to the subject or make much sense!

Tips to help encourage language development

Young children learn by interacting with their parents, family, friends as well as early childhood educators. You can help encourage your toddler’s development and language skills through activities such as:

  • Figuring out what they want to say and helping them to put it into words
  • Repeating things so they hear the correct way of pronouncing words
  • Reading stories to them and talking about the characters and pictures
  • Taking an interest in and asking questions about what they are doing
  • Giving your toddler some individual attention when you can.

Remember children will develop at their own rate, but if you have any concerns about your child’s language development it is important that you talk to your doctor, maternal health nurse or other healthcare professional for further guidance.

For more helpful information and tips on language development see our article: Language Development Milestones: 1-2 Years


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