New research has been published this month, shedding light on how toddlers learn verbs. The research found that two year old children can learn verbs after hearing them only twice. It also found that the way adults talk to toddlers can affect the likelihood of children learning new verbs. This post details strategies and activities to encourage your toddler to learn action words.
MODEL ACTION WORDS IN COMPLETE SENTENCES
Children learn vocabulary best when they are immersed in a language rich environment. Research has found that children are more likely to learn verbs when they are presented in complete sentences. For example, 'The boy is waving at the man' rather than 'He is waving'.
COMMENT RATHER THAN QUESTION
Many parents are tempted to ask their child questions to help them learn. For example 'What is the dog doing?'. It is more helpful to use a commenting strategy. As you walk down the street comment on what is around you, emphasising the verbs in the sentence. For example 'Look at the man sitting on the bench' or 'The boy is jumping up and down'.
GIVE EXAMPLES OF THE SAME VERB BEING USED IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS
Recent research from the University of Liverpool has found that verbs are harder for toddlers to learn as they are different each time the child sees them. Their study found that parents can help toddlers language skills by showing them a variety of different examples of different actions. For example, show toddlers brushing hair, brushing teeth and brushing shoes. Also show your child similar actions to show how they are different, for example washing a toothbrush or washing your hair.
SLOW DOWN THE ACTION
Verbs are more difficult to learn than nouns as they happen so quickly. For example dropping an object or jumping. In order to help your child learn verbs, try to slow down the action. When playing with toys get the action figures to sit down very slowly, exaggerating the action. Repeat the language whilst performing the action.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY
Children learn best through play. Sit down with your child and their favourite teddy or toy and use action words to describe what teddy is doing. For example teddy could be washing, jumping, brushing his hair or eating a biscuit.
LEARNING THROUGH SONG
Action songs are a great way of teaching verbs. Children can learn a lot of language through songs such as 'This is the way we...' and 'The wheels on the bus'. These songs highlight and repeat verbs giving children plenty of opportunities to learn language.
This blog is created by Hannah Broughton and Caspian Jamie. Caspian is a Private Speech Therapist and Hannah is a Child development Specialist We have our own company, The Therapy Adventure Limited and live in Ramsbottom, Manchester with our daughter.