The Case for Expanding Early Language

Expanding your child’s early language attempts will help their skills soar!

Hooray! Your child is beginning to communicate with 1-2 words! Now, how can we start expanding their early language attempts?

As exciting as those first words and word combinations are, they have limitations. As parents, we make assumptions about the meaning of what our children are saying, often based on the situation. For example, moms know it’s more likely that “doggy eat” is a comment, but grammatically it sounds more like a command.

By using the technique of expanding, we can demonstrate a more mature language structure.

“Doggy eat.”

“Yes, the doggy is eating.”

Key characteristics of expanding are:

  • the order of the words are maintained
  • the adult “corrects” the sentence, but doesn’t make a judgment on the initial attempt or request another try

Often children attempt to imitate the new, expanded version and while it may not be completely accurate, it’s usually closer than their first try.

Expanding early language attempts plays three roles:

  • It allows our child to choose the topic (and who isn’t more interested in their own topic?!).
  • It gives children a grammatically correct model (which seems to help most with plurals and present tense verb endings).
  • It keeps the topic and conversation going! By providing a model to imitate, it encourages your little one to take another conversational turn.

Research shows that parents who use a more natural, conversational approach, rather than a “teaching” style, are more likely to have children who learn language more quickly.

This is just one of the techniques you’ll learn in my Late Talkers Course, an immediate way to support your child at home.




The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.