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by Olga Kitina (Special Education Teacher and Speech Therapist)
Blog - Our Experts - Early Childhood Tips & Tricks
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Speech Development of Children Aged From 1 to 2

July 20, 2021

By the age of 12 months, there are already 8-10 words in the active dictionary of a child, and from that moment the verbal period of speech development begins. By the second year, the number of words in the active dictionary increases to 300-400, of which children can build simple sentences of 2-3 words.

It would be a mistake to assume that all this comes to the child spontaneously, of course. To develop speech, it is necessary to communicate with adults, which contributes to the formation of thinking and speech, and the development of the cognitive activity. The efforts of the adults fall onto the fertile ground because it is in the early years that intensive development of the brain and the brain matter takes place. This is never to happen again in any other subsequent period of life. For example, by the seventh month after the birth, the child's brain increases twice, by one and a half years - thrice.

Conventionally, there are the following stages in the development of the child's speech:

9-18 months - words: “mom”, “dad”, simplified names: “Anna”, “Bob”, etc.; onomatopoeic words: “meow-meow” (cat), “tick-tick” (clock), etc.

18-20 months - attempts to associate two words in a phrase (“mom give me”, “dad go”)


20-22 months - plural forms appear;

22-24 months - vocabulary grows up to 300 words. Nouns are approximately 60 percent, verbs 20 percent, no сonjunctions.

If your child has not started talking by the age of two, first of all, try to find out whether they are trying to communicate in some other ways - with the help of gestures, babble, intonations. In this case, the first "real" words are most likely to appear soon. In our parenting blog, you will find more articles dedicated to speech development and phonics exercises. Our experts provide you with valuable material that improves holistic child development and makes your job as a parent easier.

So how can we help develop a child’s speech of the child in the described period?

1. Keep up working on improving the fine motor skills of the fingers

(The importance of the fine motor skills was described in the previous article)


  1. Sorting objects: for example, blocks (by the color - 2 colors), candy (by sort - 2 sorts), beans and pasta;
  2. Tearing a napkin to pieces, tearing off some pieces of scotch attached to a surface;
  3. Assembling a pyramid;
  4. Putting together puzzles of 2 pieces;
  5. Practicing finger exercises (if the child does not manage to do independently or imitate the movements, help them, or do the “passive” variation until the child understands what kind of movement they are supposed to perform):
    • "rings" - alternately connect the thumb with the other fingers of the one and then the other hand;
    • fold the fingers of both hands in a lock;
    • clench and unclench the fists;
    • "play the piano" - knock or strum with the fingers on the table imitating playing the piano.

speech dev ch 1 2 motor sk  

2. Breathing exercises

For proper pronunciation, the child needs to be taught to form a targeted air stream.


  • blow on to a feather;
  • blow out a candle;
  • blow into a glass of water through a wide straw;
  • blow soap bubbles.

3. Face massage
face massage

With the fingertips, massage or tap lightly:

  1. from the middle of the forehead to the chin;
  2. on the nose, up and down;
  3. in circles around the lips, clockwise
  4. rubbing or pinching the lips and cheeks
  5. sliding from the ears down to the clavicular fossa.

See picture.

IMPORTANT: Massage is contraindicated if the child has fever, cough or runny nose, skin problems, or a higher seizure threshold.

4. Articulation exercises

Improve the movements of the so-called articulators (the lips and the tongue) participating in the process of speaking.

The following exercises need to be done before a large mirror. You are to show the child the movements. Therefore, make sure the child can see your articulators' movements (moves of your lips and tongue). You can "voice" the exercises, that is, accompany the movements with some sounds.

  • "Kiss me" - pout the lips as if for a kiss; if possible, finish the "Kiss" with opening the mouth widely;
  • "the little mouth laughs" - stretch the lips in a smile;
  • "the little mouth cries" - curl the lips as if crying;
  • drop a little jam (honey, cream, sour cream) under the nose (under the lower lip, in the corners of the mouth) and ask to lick these drops off.

5. Development of onomatopoeic skills

This usually takes place in everyday communication: for example, we voice and repeat all the sounds that we hear on the street (an airplane, motorcycle, tram, birds) and at home (the sound of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, etc).

Make sure you pronounce the name of the thing clearly and say the WORD which is the source of the sound.

To develop onomatopoeic skills, some special games can be used; for example,  "A Magic Bag".

Before the game, put some story toys (animals, dolls, etc.) that are familiar to the child,  into a bag. Together with an adult, the child draws a toy from the bag and practices saying e.g. “dog" or "bark-bark" (depending on which stage of speech development the child is currently on). Take turns getting all the toys out of the bag.

About the author

Olga Kitina - Teacher-defectologist and Speech Therapist.
Germany, Ratingen.

Links and references

  1. Volkova L.S.  Children’s speech impediments and correcting them in education /Scientific publication of the Latsis Latvian State Pedagogical Institute, Issue 1, Riga. Zvajgzne, 1969. 

  2. Voitenkov VB., Komantsev VN., Klimkin AV., Ekusheva EV., Skripchenko NV., Bedova MA. [Age dynamic of the motor-evoked potential from the tongue in healthy persons.] // 

  3. Zeitlin S.N. The language and the child. The linguistics of the child’s speech.

  4. Stephan Baumgartner und Iris Füssenich (Hrsg.): Sprachtherapie mit Kindern. 5. Auflage. UTB, München 2002 

  5. Rosemarie Tracy: Wie Kinder Sprache lernen. Und wie wir sie dabei unterstützen können. Narr Verlag, Berlin 2008 

  6. Levina R.E. Pedagogical issues of child’s speech pathologies. // Specialized School, 1967
  7. Ulrike Franke, Barbara Lleras, Susanne Lutz: Artikulationstherapie bei Vorschulkindern. Diagnostik und Didaktik. Reinhardt, München 2001

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