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Handout E: Abbreviated Sequence of Typical Language Development

Sapp, W.K. (2005). Abbreviated sequence of typical language development. Chapel Hill, NC: Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

Approximate age ranges

Expressive communication

Receptive communication

10 to 18 months

  • develop first true words

  • understand no
  • understand “hot”
  • look at toy or object when prompted 

12 to 18 months

  • imitate words
  • point to one to three body parts
  • develop vocabulary of 3 to 20 words
  • use phrases (e.g., “All gone,” “What’s this?”)
  • use ritual words (“Hi,” “Bye,” “Please”)
  • 50% of utterances are nouns
  • follow simple one-step commands
  • identify one of two objects from a group
  • identify one of two objects from a group

18 to 24 months

  • use more verbs and adjectives
  • develop verbal yes/no response
  • 65% of speech is intelligible
  • have vocabulary of 50 recognizable words      
  • comprehend around 300 words
  • begin to be interested in listening to stories

By 30 months

  • 70% of speech is intelligible
  • have vocabulary of around 200 words
  • can answer what and where questions
  • use two-word phrases including negation (“No milk”), possessives (“Daddy chair”), and pronouns (“Me Philip”)
  • comprehend 500 words
  • listen to 5-10 minute story
  • carry out two related commands (e.g., “get your coat and bring it to me”)

By 36 months

  • 80% of speech is intelligible
  • have vocabulary of around 500 words
  • ask simple questions
  • repeat simple sentences
  • begin to use articles (“a,” “an,” “the”)
  • begin using contractions
  • begin using -ing endings
  • 25% of utterances are nouns and 25% are verbs
  • comprehend 900 words
  • know concepts such as big/little and in/on

References

Gard, A., Gilman, L., & Gorman, J. (1993). Speech and language development chart (2nd ed.) [Poster]. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Pan, B.A., & Gleason, J.B. (1997). Semantic development: Learning the meanings of words. In J.B. Gleason (Ed.), The development of language (4th ed., pp. 122-158). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Tager-Flusberg, H. (1997). Putting words together: Morphology and syntax in the preschool years. In J.B. Gleason (Ed.), The development of language (4th ed., pp. 159-209). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.