Written by Smita Srivastava
Language – we have so many of them around us, especially in India. If your toddler would go around and play with other kids in their neighborhood, they are sure to come across at least 3 or 4 different languages. Learning a language can be a little tough but toddlers need to learn and develop their primary language for communication. Apart from speaking, you can use many interesting language activities for toddlers to boost language development.
Toddlers are quick in learning and picking a language when they have repeated exposure to it. It can be in the form of communication, games, activities, or even by simply hearing someone speak. It is not easy to teach a language to a toddler in the traditional way of teaching. You need some fun activities to make language development interesting and effective.
In This Article
Language is the first step in effective communication. Toddlers should get familiar with the language they speak at home to start understanding and communicating with the members of the household. Unless they understand a language, you cannot teach them any concept like math, drawing, or craft.
Research say, Language development in toddlers promotes their socializing skills, boosts cognitive development, enables them to express themselves, and sets a strong base for education and literacy. Having a good command over a language will boost your toddler’s self-confidence and help them communicate with peers and others without any inhibitions.
We all pick languages when we hear them repeatedly. It is easier to use a language only if we speak it regularly. Just learning the words by rote cannot help you communicate clearly in a language. It can be hard to remember the names of items or use certain words repeatedly. When you combine this with interesting activities, the brain finds it easier to associate words with actions, thus helping you remember them longer.
Activity-based learning is an effective approach to learning. What your toddler learns through activities tends to register well in their developing minds. When they understand and communicate in one language confidently, it creates a good base to learn more languages with ease.
Language development in early childhood is important. A toddler’s brain can understand and pick multiple languages at a time, unlike the adult brain. However, you need to put in the effort and give them the right exposure to boost their language development.
Coming up with activities can be a daunting task for many parents, especially when they have their hands full. At the same time, you cannot ignore your toddler’s language developmental phase either. Here are some effective and interesting language activities for toddlers to boost their language development.
Music is a very effective mode of learning. Toddlers are taught nursery rhymes in school as it can help them learn easily. It is easier to remember and recollect too.
Sing songs in your mother tongue or local language. You can make up songs with characters your toddler likes, the words they use, or simply sing existing songs. Though your toddler may not understand the meaning of all the words, they will learn to pronounce them. It will be easier for them to pronounce difficult words when it is taught in a tune, on repeat mode.
Singing songs will develop your toddler’s language, their sense of music, and also use their vocal muscles in different ways to produce different sounds.
Barking like a dog or roaring like a lion will not teach your toddler any language but will strengthen their vocal muscles. Making animal sounds can be fun and entertaining for toddlers.
Make a mental list of animals and their sounds. Now ask your toddler to make sounds of a particular animal, if they get it right, move on to the next one. When they don’t know the sound, make the sound and repeat with them.
Through this activity, your toddler will learn the names of the animals in a particular language and will also associate the sound or image of the animal with its name. Next time they see or hear that animal, they can identify it with the right name.
All our minds work in different ways. Two people can have a single word in mind but will come up with different sentences for it. Completing each other’s sentences can be very amusing and very good learning.
For younger toddlers, you can say a few words of a sentence and ask them to complete it with a single word. For example – you can start with “the crow is” and your toddler can say a bird or black. Either way, they are using words in coherence with your reference.
Forming sentences helps enhance speaking skills, and promotes thinking in a certain language, which is very important for easy understanding and fluency of that language.
Toddlers love when their toys or non-living items come to life. They enjoy the animated voices and jerky movements of objects in a puppet show.
You can make simple finger puppets by rolling a white strip of paper on your fingers and drawing faces on them. Name your finger puppets and come up with a story around them. Alternatively, you can make finger puppets of your toddler’s favorite characters or characters from their favorite book. Once your toddler knows what a puppet show is, you can ask them to be one of the puppets next time. When they take on the role of the puppets, they will talk for the puppet,
Puppet shows are a fun way to get creative with words. It improves the toddler’s imagination and gives an insight of what they are hearing and observing around them. It also helps improve their confidence and reduces stage fright.
[Read : Puppet Play For Babies]
Name the thing, is an effective game to teach your toddler the right name for everyday items in a particular language.
Look around you and point to an item. Let your toddler name it. Teach them the names of items they don’t know or mispronounce. This is a very simple, easy, and effective game you can play anywhere anytime. You can teach your toddler the name of things in your primary language and then introduce a new language too.
Naming things can help improve your toddler’s language, improve focus, and observation skills.
Toddlers love to “pretend play”. Today, when most of us are busy on our phones, mimicking a call can be very entertaining for them.
Use a toy telephone until your toddler understands the concept of dialing and talking. You can also just use something solid and pretend it to be a mobile phone and play the game. Pretend to be on a call with your toddler, come up with characters and build a conversation around it. Your toddler can be a shopkeeper and you can be a customer calling to ask about the availability of things.
Pretending to be on a call will help your toddler develop their communication skills. They learn to listen, think, and respond in the same language.
You can play this game in any language. It can be an educational game to play when you are waiting somewhere and your toddler is bored.
For younger toddlers, you can teach the words matching each alphabet. For older toddlers who can spell or understand phonics, you can point to a thing, ask them to name the thing and guess which letter the name starts with.
Identifying the starting sounds can help improve their pronunciation and spelling as they grow up. When they look around for items to match the letter, it improves their searching and observational skills.
A sure fun way to improve tongue movement and pronunciation. Tongue twisters are made of similar-sounding words strung into a sentence which can be hard to repeat without effort and focus.
Start with small and very simple tongue twisters. Encourage your toddler to repeat it when they get frustrated and want to give up. Join them and repeat the tongue twister with your toddler and let them see how even adults can get it wrong.
When you join your toddler and make mistakes, it boosts their self-confidence. Apart from having fun and learning to pronounce, they learn that adults find such things hard too and it is okay to make mistakes.
Toddlers love to role play. It is their way of being in control as they will mostly pretend to be an adult.
You can encourage your toddler to role-play with their toys or even join them in their game from time to time. Let your toddler choose who you and they will be. Follow their storyline and improvise as the role-play progresses.
Role-playing encourages toddlers to speak more and communicate effectively. They need to listen, think, and pretend to speak like the character they are playing. It improves both imagination and acting skills.
Reading is one of the best activities to develop language and communication skills. Toddlers with a reading habit learn new words easily. Make it a habit to read a book to your toddler every day. You can read them a bedtime story every night. Initially, some toddlers can be restless and may not sit through a story. Keep reading to them and they will eventually start getting into the habit.
Choose books with bright illustrations that a toddler would like to see and explore. When your toddler is bored, you can let them read the story themselves or make them read it to you. Though they cannot read yet, they will recall the details from memory and correlate them with the images and tell you a story.
Reading introduces your toddler to new words, thus aiding language development. It also improves their listening skills and opens a world of imagination and creativity, which are important milestones in a toddler’s overall development.
Developing a language is very important for effective communication. Toddlers should know at least one language to communicate in when they start school. Even if they can’t speak clearly, they should understand the instructions and what is being taught to them at school. You cannot teach a language overnight, but you can quicken the learning process through activities and games.
[Read : Reading to Your Baby]
A toddler’s language development can be split into 6 stages namely – pre-linguistic, babbling, mono-syllable, single-word, two-word, and telegraphic stages. After this, they start using multiple words and even tenses in their sentences.
While a delay in speaking or using verbal communication in toddlers is nothing to worry about, language delay is concerning. When a child cannot understand or use spoken language in their toddlerhood, they may have a language development delay. Consult your doctor for clarifications and diagnosis.
With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.
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