Speech and language

‘Speech’ and ‘language’ are two different things.

‘Speech’ errors are usually easy to hear for parents and teachers.

When we refer to a child’s ‘language’, we mean their ability to ‘understand’ and ‘use’ language. Children with language difficulties may present with any or all of the following:

Poor comprehension
Difficulty following instructions
Difficulty explaining their ideas
Frustration that others can’t understand them
Difficulty expressing themselves verbally or in writing
Learning difficulties
Poor memory

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language, contact us

Quick Guide to Speech, Language & Literacy Development


By 2 yearsBy 3 years3-4 years4-5 years
Speech“bider” for ‘spider’

Most developmental errors still expected
“pider” for ‘spider’

Errors should be decreasing, 2 consonant clusters are still difficult.
“spider” for ‘spider’

An unfamiliar person should be able to understood 80% of what the child says.
“spiderman wocks” for ‘spider rocks’

Most sounds are mastered except ‘th, r, l’. Three letter consonant clusters still difficult ‘stipe’ for “stripe”
ComprehensionUnderstands categories, e.g. food

Points to 4 body parts

Understands some action words; sleeping, running etc
Begins to understands colour, shape, size, location

Follows 2 step instructions

Asks and understands simple wh questions ‘who, what, where etc’
Asks and understands more complex wh questions ‘why, how, when etc’

Can group objects by category or function (e.g. food, things we wear)
Understand 10,000+ words including time, quantity and spatial concepts: before, after, less, least, all behind, under, in front, next to.

Understands more expanded sentences
Expression200-300 words

2 word sentences - noun & verb (e.g. teddy sleep)
800-900 words

3-4 word sentences with grammatical words and endings (teddy is sleeping)

Maintains conversation over several turns
4-5 word sentences with plurals, possessives, adjectives (apples, daddy’s, blue)

Longer conversations or stories about topics that are present or imaginary
5-8 word sentences with few grammatical errors (except irregular e.g. ‘childs’ for children)

Better at answering ‘why’ questions

Longer conversations or stories about topics that are in the recent or remote past
Pre-LiteracyBooks are no longer just for chewing

Focuses for a short time on pictures

Books with flaps and textures to touch
Books are no longer just Frisbees

Books with bright pictures with little or no text

Child can point to familiar objects on the page
Parents to point to and name less familiar pictures

Books have 1-2 sentences per page

Books with fun rhymes
Child begins to learn letter names, identify rhyme, identify first sound same/different

Books have simple story structure - character, problem, solution

Child joins in telling the story

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns about your child’s speech, language or literacy development.