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NORMAL LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT. Maryjane Palmer Speech-Language Pathologist Slingerland Director. Language. Is a code whereby ideas about the world are represented through a conventional system of arbitrary signals for communication. Bloom & Lahey, 1978. Four domains of language.

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normal language development


Maryjane Palmer

Speech-Language Pathologist

Slingerland Director


Is a code whereby ideas about the world are represented through a conventional system of arbitrary signals for communication.

Bloom & Lahey, 1978

four domains of language
Four domains of language
  • Phonology
  • Grammar
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • The ability to produce, discriminate, and manipulate specific sounds of a given language
  • The underlying rules that organize any specific language
  • Composed of both morphology and syntax
    • Morphology studies the smallest word unit that impacts on meaning
    • Syntax governs types of words, word order, rigidity of order, formulation of questions or a negation
  • The study of meaning
    • Vocabulary
    • Lexicon are entries that are organized in the mental dictionary according to well-defined rules
  • Rules of conversation, narrative discourse, communicative intents
language at birth
Language at birth
  • Language acquisition depends on the environment
  • Neither hemisphere is committed to any specific job
  • Begins with development of auditory sensory channel
  • Begins concept building through body movement, observation of changes from regularities and consistencies in environment
  • Interprets tone of voice
birth 3 months www asha org public speech development
Hearing & Understanding

Startles to loud sounds

Quiets or smiles when spoken to

Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound


Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)

Cries differently for different needs

Smiles when sees mom

4 6 months
Hearing & Understanding

Moves eyes in direction of sounds

Responds to changes in tone of voice

Notices toys that make sounds

Pays attention to music


Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds including p, b, m

Chuckles and laughs

Vocalizes excitement and displeasure

Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and playing with you

4-6 months
7 months 1 year
Hearing & Understanding

Enjoys games like peek-a-boo

Turns and looks in direction of sounds

Listens when spoken to

Recognizes words for common items like cup, shoe

Begins to respond to requests


Babbling both long and short sounds

Uses speech and noncrying sounds to get attention

Uses gestures to communicate

Imitates different speech sounds

Has one to two words dog, dada, mama although sounds may not be clear

7 months-1 year
Integration of the auditory channel with the kinesthetic modality occurs from the triggering of the motor/muscle response with previously heard and experimented sounds
1 2 years
Hearing & Understanding

Points to a few body parts when asked

Follows simple commands and understands simple questions

Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes

Points to pictures in a book when named


Says more words every month

Uses some 1-2 word questions (where kitty?)

Puts 2 words together (more cookie)

Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

1-2 years
2 3 years
Hearing & Understanding

Understands differences in meaning (in-on)

Follows 2 requests

Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time


Has a word for almost everything

Uses 2-3 words to talk about and ask for things

Uses k, g, f, t, d, n sounds

Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time

Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them

2-3 years
3 4 years
Hearing & Understanding

Hears you when you call from another room

Answers simple who, what, where, and why questions


Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes

Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words

Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words

3-4 years
4 5 years
Hearing & Understanding

Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions

Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school


Uses sentences that give lots of detail

Tells stories that stick to topic

Communicates easily with other children and adults

Says most sounds correctly

Uses same grammar as rest of family

4-5 years

Follows 1-2 simple directions in a sequence

Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud

Follow simple conversation


Answer simple yes/no questions

Answer open-ended questions

Retell story

Participate appropriately in conversations

Show interest in and start conversations

first grade

Remembers info

Responds to instructions

Follows 2-3 step directions in a sequence


Easily understood

Answers more complex yes/no ?

Tell and retell stories in a logical order

Uses most grammar correctly

Ask and respond to wh?

Stay on topic and take turns in conversation

Give directions

Start conversations

First Grade
second grade

Follows 3-4 oral directions in a sequence

Understands direction words

Correctly answers questions about grade level story


Use increasingly complex structures

Clarify and explain words and ideas

Give directions with 3-4 steps

Use language to inform, persuade, and entertain

Stay on topic, take turns, use appropriate eye contact in conversations

Second Grade
third grade

Listen attentively in group situations

Understand grade-level material


Participates in conversations and group discussions

Uses subject-related vocabulary

Summarize a story accurately

Explain what has been learned

Third Grade
fourth grade

Listen to and understand info presented by others

Form opinions based on evidence

Listen for specific purposes


Uses words appropriately in conversation

Understand some figurative language

Summarize and restate ideas

Organize info for clarity

Use subject area info and vocabulary

Make effective oral presentations

Fourth Grade
fifth grade

Listen and draw conclusions in subject area


Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience

Summarize main points

Report about info gathered in group activities

Fifth Grade
adolescent language
Adolescent language
  • Low-frequency structures
  • Complex sentence structures using when, but, if, during, after, could, would, had+past tense
  • Transitional words such as although, even if, unless
  • Relative clauses using that and which
  • Prepositions modifying noun phrases
  • Multiple meanings, synonyms, and antonyms
  • Figurative language such as metaphors, idioms
  • Narrative abilities such as inferencing, flashbacks, retelling, metanarrative discussions, plans and goals
language is a phenomenon
Language is a phenomenon
  • Myklebust refers to three functions of language
    • Inner which the baby makes sense of the environment
    • Receptive which is the child develops a concrete understanding of object-meaning then object-word
    • Expressive which the child expresses himself through words
reading is not a phenomenon
Reading is NOT a phenomenon
  • It is learned
  • Enhances the verbal expression
  • Reading leads to written language
  • Oral language prior to reading and written language
global development of normally acquired language function beth h slingerland
Global Development of Normally Acquired Language FunctionBeth H. Slingerland

Understanding and speaking

auditory stimulus for input-output

with concept and serves as the

fundamental basis for Reading

Visual stimulus for input with

concept and serves as a

Verbalized Expression fundamental basis for

Auditory-concept stimulus

For output as a part of Written expression

Auditory-concept stimulus

for output-input requiring

spelling and writing as a part of