Learn How Simplifying Speech Can Strengthen Your Toddler’s Language Skills

Sep 16, 2020 | Blog

Last week I introduced two language strategies to add to your daily routines, parallel- and self-talk. If you missed it, check it out here! As children begin to understand and use language, you might be tempted to talk to them just as you would with another adult (full sentences/conversational style). Well what do you do if your child has a language delay? Let’s add another langauge strategy to your toolbox for this exact reason. Simplifying your speech is an easy way to increase language skills for early communicators.

Ummm, You Want Me to Say What?

As children build their vocabulary, we can’t expect them to go from using zero words to speaking in full sentences overnight. If you ask your child to imitate something like “Mom, may I please have a cup of milk with breakfast” you might get a look similiar to the one pictured above.

Instead let’s meet your child where they’re at and start from there. In the SLP world this is referred to as “scaffolding.” Meaning, an adult will build upon what the child already knows, providing as much support needed until the child can complete a task independently. So we are going to simplify our speech and work with your child to build longer and longer phrases until they are able to communicate in conversational speech.

How to Simplify Your Speech

Let’s get technical for a second. Grammatical simplified input is a term you may or may not have heard of before. This refers to utterances that are shortened but do not violate grammatical rules. For example, “see the bubbles,” “mommy’s cup,” and “the doggie’s running” are all shortened utterances that still follow grammatical rules.

English is a tough language to learn and we don’t want to skip out on using these important grammatical markers when working with early communicators.

Word Combinations

When simplifying speech we can still use various word combinations to develop your child’s vocabulary. Here are some examples of shortened utterances you might use….

word combinations

What are the benefits of simplified speech?

The research tells us that by simplifying speech you are actually facilitating language by allowing your child to anticipate upcoming words.Not only will your child be able to anticipate what you will say, you are also providing clues to help your child learn new words. For example, the plural -s means more than 1 noun (dogs = more than 1 dog). If you don’t follow grammatical rules, your child might miss out on learning specific words.

Things to Note

As I mentioned earlier, we are gradually scaffolding language skills to allow your child to independently communicate. This is just one strategy to help us get there and won’t need to be used forever. I think it’s important to note this because sometimes parents will wonder if these strategies will hinder growth.

What routine can you add this language strategy to? Feel free to leave a comment below or send a message straight to my inbox!

Alyssa Dudley, MS CCC-SLP

Owner, The Child Inspired