Discuss the different stages of child language development.

Discuss the different stages of child language development.


Parents do not teach the mother language to their children formally. They only reinforce their child’s verbal behavior by means of “baby talk”. To extend their language abilities, children pick up a language like playing a game with other children. Though the specific environmental factors make it possible for language acquisition, the primary element would appear to be merely sufficient expression to language use in a social context.

The First Language Acquisition Stages

When humans get born, they do not suddenly possess the grammatical rules of their first language in their brains. The native language is acquired through some stages, and every stage brings children near to the adult’s language. There are six stages in children’s first language acquisition.

Pre-talking Stage / Cooing Stage

This stage extends from 0 to 6 months. According to Bolinger, the pre-talking stage is the vowel-like sound-responding stage. Children produce vowel-like sounds (especially, the back vowels [u] and [o]) in the sounds of “oh”, “uh”, and “ah”, typical of “cooing”. At this stage, the children find difficulties in producing the vowel sound [i] without that time when they scream like that “hiii”. Moreover in producing consonant sounds like [b], [p], or [m], they are completely incapable.

Babbling Stage

The duration of this stage is from 6 to 9 months. Babbling is the sounds that are produced by infants as consonant-vowel combinations. The sounds which are produced by infants at this stage are not at all the same in the languages of the world such as [ma-ma-ma] or [da-da-da] and [ba-ba-ba] or [na-na-na] but the process of entering into the world of language is starkly same.

Holophrastic Stage

The extension of this stage is 9-18 months. Holophrastic is the children’s first single word that represents a sentence. Children use one word to express a particular emotional state. 

The Two-word Stage

The stage that extends from 18 to 24 months is called the two-word stage. The two-word stage is the mini sentences with banal semantic relations. As Fromkin states that children start forming actual two-word sentences, showing definite syntactic and semantic relations between the two words and the intonation outline of the two words extending over the whole utterance rather than being separated by a pause between the two words. Basically, a child at this age is already able to produce consonant sounds like [j], [p], [b], [d], [t], [m], and [n].

Telegraphic Stage

This stage is from 24 to 30 months. Telegraphic is absolutely a descriptive term because the child does not deliberately leave out the non-content words, as does an adult sending a telegram. When the child commences producing utterances that are longer than two words, these utterances appear to be “sentence-like”; they have hierarchical, constituent structures similar to the syntactic structures found in the sentences produced by adult grammar.

Later Multiword Stage

This stage is from 30 months onward. According to Bolinger, this stage is the fastest increment in vocabulary with many new additions every day. No babbling happens at all; utterances have communicative intent. It is entirely noticed that there occurs a great variation among children at this stage. It seems that the children understand everything which they hear and is directed to them.

Observations of children in different language areas of the world reveal that the stages are very similar, possibly universal.

Read More: What is semantics? Provide an analysis of major lexical relations

Mr. Abdullah
Mr. Abdullah

Mr. Abdullah is a passionate love of Literature. Researcher and Lecturer of English Literature and Language.

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