Adding Language in Everyday Conversations

By Speech Pathologist Cassie Stahlhut

On our daily drive for day-care drop-off, I had the rare chance to steal a drive-thru coffee. As we left, my daughter spotted the monolithic takeaway coffee cup perched in plain view. (If you know, you know).

‘Look Mummy, a huge coffee!’ Before I replied, I daydreamed for a moment about actually having 44 gallons of cappuccino in my own cup.

‘Yeah, it’s gigantic!’ I responded.

‘It’s giant!’ replied the voice in the back.

As we were playing a game of back and forth around a coffee that could sustain me for approximately 2 hours max, I thought about all the opportunities we have during the day to add language and expand our children’s vocabularies.

 

Expanding language means to add new information to what your child already knows. It can be descriptive words like the example above. Descriptive words do just that, they can describe a person, place or thing. Descriptions are everywhere! It’s not just a car, it can be a blue car, a fast car, a slow car, a small car or a big car. The jelly bean can be blue, pink, purple, red, or green. It can be yummy or yucky. I bet if you looked around you right now from where you are reading this, you could think of 10 quick descriptions off the top of your head.

 

You can use a range of different word types to expand language. In addition to descriptions, you can also add:

-      Feelings: sad teddy’, ‘happy dog’

-      Actions: ‘teddy runs’, ‘dog barks

-      Locations: ‘teddy is under the bed’, ‘doggy is on the couch’

-      Greetings and farewells: ‘bye bye teddy’, ‘hello doggy’

-      Ownership:Mummy’s teddy’, ‘your doggy’

-      Questions:where is teddy?’, ‘what is doggy doing?’

-      Sounds:Ouch teddy!’, ‘Doggy says woof woof’

 

If you were playing an imaginary game of Doggy and Teddy, then you’ve just opened up fourteen opportunities to expand language! The best part about language expansion is that once you get the hang of it, you will do it without effort. Just remember to give your child a chance to chime in and follow their interests to keep it fun and exciting!

 

Let us know how you’ve expanded language in your daily routines. You might even be surprised at how much you’re doing already!