• Bella Butterflies

Building Oral Language

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

As technology evolves and our phones and replying to those ‘ever so important’ emails impede on precious dinner time conversations, it’s imperative to keep sight of how these simple interactions indirectly support our little ones oral language development. Just like all educational tools, iPads, apps and online programs all have their place and can support a child’s development, if used appropriately. There are many benefits to using digital mediums however, excessive use of screen time can also limit their exposure to learning the rules of social engagement and how to interact with others in a face-to-face setting. These devices should only be used as a supplement and not their main way of learning.

A simple way of building oral language skills and expanding vocabulary is to read and talk with your child for as little as 15 minutes a day. Children learn new words by hearing words repeated in a range of different contexts – e.g. ‘ball’ – “Bounce the basketball, roll the playdough into a ball and kick the soccer ball.”

They also pick up words from others who are significant to them, for example, their parents, grandparents, aunts and siblings. Each adult provides them with a unique and tailored learning environment beknown to them. For example, parents may be involved in getting children ready for the day and meal times, when an aunty may be babysitting at the park playing on the slide and a kindy teacher may be talking about the days of the week and the weather outside.

Each conversation is just as important as the next and all play a part in vocabulary development.

"A simple way of building oral language skills and expanding vocabulary is to read and talk with your child for as little as 15 minutes a day."

Other ways to support vocabulary development include:

  1. Rephrasing and expanding on your child’s utterances. E.g. child: ‘teddy’ parent: ‘yes, that’s a brown teddy bear. A big brown teddy bear.”

  2. Reading and rein-acting popular stories using a range of props from around the house. E.g. ‘The Three Little Pigs’ – look for objects around the house and garden to build each of the pigs houses.

  3. Play ‘I Spy’ using directional words. E.g. ‘Simon says put your hand under your foot.’

  4. Sing, sing and more SINGING! Singing songs repeatedly with children not only introduces them to rhythm, rhyme and funky dance moves, it also tunes them into new words often paired with actions, making it a fun and engaging learning experience.

  5. Pick two new words to introduce to your child each week and each day build on these words in a range of contexts. E.g. ‘tiger’ & ‘zoo

  • Read: “Dear Zoo” flip book.

  • Grocery shopping: Discuss what food tiger’s eat and what foods do we eat.

  • Driving in the car: Look out the window and spot an owner walking a dog, ask your child if they think there are dogs at the zoo. Proceed to explain why/why not and discuss other animals that may be at the zoo instead.

  • In conversation when talking to others: Encourage your child to then tell someone else all about a zoo and the animals that they might find there.


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