How children learn to speak – SWR2















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Milestones in language acquisition – delirium from birth

Studies show that babies can distinguish their mother’s voice from another before birth, and are sensitive to the rhythm and melody of the mother tongue. At about five months, babies become familiar with repeated vocal sequences and tones. Soon, they begin to understand the meaning of the words they hear so often. They try their voices at the first cry – and gossip.



Baby babbling appears to be practicing vocalization: What happens when I put my mouth in a certain position? These early stages of language acquisition are independent of language,


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Delirium seems to be practicing vocalization: What happens when I put my mouth in a certain position? According to Barbara Hall, these early stages are independent of language. She is a professor of linguistics at the University of Potsdam and her team investigated how children who are learning German react to the unimportant tones of German but of Mandarin. According to Hull, in the second half of the first year of life, chatter becomes more similar to the target language. By the age of nine months, babies know the sounds — vowels, consonants, and combinations of sounds — that occur in their language.

The first words at the age of one

The first word is usually “mama” or “dada”. This is obvious, because children see mom and dad very often and hear words from them more often. In addition, the syllables “ma” and “pa” are very easy to form already in the chatter stage. Kids love words that have repetition. The researchers were able to show that the language center of the brain reacts more strongly to such words. This makes “mom” and “dad” perfect candidates for the first word.

Up to 18 months: Acquisition of vocabulary through a vocabulary boom

At the stage of pronouncing one word, the child expands his vocabulary. At first it happens slowly, they know about 50 words. But then, vocabulary acquisition accelerated to the point of a “vocabulary boom,” says Barbara Hall. It starts when babies are 16 to 18 months old.

Not all children are the same, says developmental psychologist Steffi Sachse. They learn words fairly evenly; A “vocabulary explosion” does not happen with them at all.

Since development can take different cycles, it does not make sense to specify what a child should be able to do and at what age.

The first complete sentences from the age of two

Kids can now combine words and produce their first multi-word phrases: build a tower. In the next stage of language learning, between the ages of two and four, the stories children tell become more understandable. Because then the children use the verb in the correct form and form complete sentences. Children have now mastered most shapes; However, there are still problems with irregular verbs.



The child is building a tower, and the mother is watching.  At the stage of pronouncing one word, the child expands his vocabulary.  Starting at about age 2, children can combine words and produce their first multi-word phrases: build a tower.  (Photo: Colorbox)

At the stage of pronouncing one word, the child expands his vocabulary. Starting at about age 2, children can combine words and produce their first multi-word phrases: build a tower.


Color Box



Three-year-old teacher: form secondary phrases

For linguist Barbara Hall, if a child is able to form secondary sentences, this is a sign of mastery of basic grammar acquisition. The ability to form subordinate clauses such as if-then clauses is another milestone in language acquisition.

How does humor develop in children?

1900 Words – Five-Year Vocabulary

By the age of five, children know about 1,900 words and can use them.

SWR 2020

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