Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Toddler Years

How does language develop?

By the end of the first year, the child has developed a vocabulary of single words. At this point, words may have overgeneralized meanings. “Kitty” may refer to any four-legged animal. “Bus” may include any vehicle of transportation that has wheels. By the end of the second year, word usage is more accurate and the child is combining words into two-word sequences. This is known as telegraphic speech, where only the most meaningful information is expressed, (e.g., “More juice,” “Want candy”). At this point, the child has a vocabulary of about 200 words. Over the next year, the child combines more and more words together, eventually forming full sentences. Words are learned at a rate of about one to three words per week.


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