10 Ways to Promote the Language and Communication Skills of Infants and Toddlers

Language and communication skills must be developed from a young age. These skills will be required to succeed at school and in later life. Language and communication skills are far more complex than merely using words; they involve gestures such as pointing and facial expressions such as smiling. These skills fall into two categories, expressive (to express yourself) and receptive (your ability to understand others.

Developing excellent language and communication skills before a child goes to school will enhance their chances of achieving more success as they will be immediately ready to learn. For instance, a British curriculum school in Bangkok will be expected a child to have already developed these skills to a certain degree. Assuming that this level has been achieved, they will find it far easier to learn critical skills such as reading and writing, skills required in all subjects in the curriculum.

Early Years

It is the first three years of a child’s life when the brain develops most rapidly and when a child will start to build their cognitive behaviour. The child will need to interact with adults and other children, and these new relationships will have a significant impact on how the child develops and learns. Early educators, such as those in kindergartens and parents, must provide opportunities and support for a child to grow and develop. Naturally, this includes developing their language and communication skills.

Providing Language Stimulation

Countless research has shown that teachers who give the children more language stimulation in the first three years of life establish more advanced language skills. It involves asking questions, responding to their questions or other vocalizations and engaging in positive talk. The more exposure that they have, the more advanced their vocabulary and understanding will become, which will create more opportunities for them in later life.

Researchers have discovered that approximately one-third of the language interactions that take place between children and educators have a profound influence on the child’s language development. The remaining two-thirds involve the teacher giving direction and assistance, asking rhetorical questions and issuing general praise. The objective, therefore, is to engage in more high-quality language interactions; one’s that will provide the child with a variety of different experiences that will foster growth in their communication and language skills.

Early childhood educators can use a selection of techniques and practices that will help to support infants’ and toddlers’ language and communication skills. Each of these skills should take place in small groups or ideally on a one-to-one basis where all the attention can be devoted to one child. The intention is to focus upon the different types of interaction; interactions that researchers believe promote more developed language and communication skills. The various interactions:

  • Appropriate responses to a child’s speech or other vocalizations
  • Engaging in two-way attention with the child and other children
  • To evoke and encourage conversations with the child
  • To help the child to communicate with other children
  • Encourage the child to use more extensive vocabulary and more complex grammar
  • Talk to the child and provide them with more information about different things that are happening around them as well as emotions

Each of these interactions can be conducted with children of any nationality, language or cultural background, making it ideal for a British curriculum school in Bangkok where many children will be dual language learners. Dual language children can feel isolated and struggle to express their needs and desires. The role of the educator is to understand and appreciate these potential difficulties and develop strategies for overcoming them.

10 Practices Educators Should Use

Here is a general overview of practices that teachers can use to improve and promote their language and communication skills of infants and toddlers regardless of their nationality or language that they speak.

1. Encourage general chat

It is essential to engage children in general conversation. It will boost their self-confidence and encourage them to talk to others.

2. Provide a commentary

Parents and teachers can give a running commentary on events that are happening as well as describing objects that they see.

3. Alter vocabulary and grammar used

It is critical that you use different words to describe the same event or activities. Altering the words and grammar used will help to develop the child’s vocabulary.

4. Give everything a name

Everything and everyone that you see should have a name attached. The same should also be the case with actions.

5. Engage in activities that the child enjoys

A child will communicate more when they are involved in activities that they enjoy and interest them.

6. Interactive reading

The parent or teacher should encourage the child’s participation when using books.

7. Continual reading

There is no harm in reading the same book multiple times but where possible try introducing new reading material gradually.

8. Use props

Using a favourite toy or another object can help to spark up a conversation.

9. Use music

Most children enjoy music, so engaging in musical activities is likely to encourage communication.

10. Using simple gestures along with words

Using basic gestures or simple signs, along with words, will help the child to understand the message that you are trying to convey.

Each of these practices can be used on their own or in conjunction with other activities. Combining practices with each will help infants and toddlers to focus on the events. The more that the child focuses on the methods, the more it will help to develop their language and communication skills. As they advance, combining more of the activities will help aid their development as well as capture their interest. Educators and parents must understand that these practices are suitable for infants and toddlers from any background and culture. The same methods can be used regardless of language, but teachers should be mindful that children develop at different rates. This can be influenced by age, personality, and influences at home. Teachers have the opportunity to engage the child in rich language and grammar exposure which will further develop their language and communication skills.