Supporting language in 2-year-olds

Two-year-olds’ language comes on leaps and bounds over the course of the year. At the start of being 2, most children have around 50 words and are likely to be putting two words together. If all goes well, by the time they reach 3, they will have hundreds of words and will be talking in short sentences. They will also understand most of what is said to them.  

You can support the language development of 2-year-olds, helping them grow in confidence to chat and extend their language skills.

  • To encourage talking, try making a simple statement or comment and then leave a pause e.g. "the car is rolling down the slope".
  • Talk about what children are looking at or playing with. Following children’s lead and joining in with their play can encourage their language.
  • Avoid asking one question straight after another. This can put too much pressure on children and they are less likely to respond. For children who are starting to stammer, the expectation that they should answer can be problematic.
  • Try to share picture books every day and if they are of interest, repeat them again and again. This can support the development of vocabulary. Look at them at the child’s pace and don’t worry if they want to skip forwards or go backwards.
  • Be proactive at watching out for children who may not be fully hearing, especially during the winter and after colds. Conductive hearing loss, where fluid builds up in the ear, can stop children from hearing words and sounds which may impact their communication development. 
  • Recognise that a lot of screen time when children are not interacting with adults or other children reduces opportunities to learn how to talk and listen to others.