Language skills for two-year-olds are blossoming. They can understand and say hundreds of words, but familiar adults may need to "translate" for others due to immature pronunciation skills. During the year, they pick up most parts of speech to form more complete sentences. They understand simple directions and many common phrases used in routine situations. Children this age rarely initiate conversations, but they answer adult questions more readily and need less prompting.
At 24 months, understands 500 to 700 words; by 30 months, as many as 800 or 900.
The average child has the capacity to acquire one or two words per day, given access to new words in his or her daily experiences.
Learns a considerable number of words when adults name objects. During this year, begins to also infer word meanings from their context in adult conversations.
Vocabulary words include many nouns (names of things, such as common objects and familiar people), and an increasing number of action words, descriptive words, pronouns and location words. Children also typically learn quantifiers (e.g., more, all, some) and question words (e.g., why, where, who, when).
Understands a lot of common phrases used in routine situations.
Follows one- and two-step directions involving very familiar objects and actions (e.g., "Get your hat." "Put your book back on the shelf.", "Take off your mittens and tuck them in your hat.", "Pick up the book and bring it here.")
Understands simple explanations in routine contexts.
Perception of speech sounds that aren't used in native language continues to decrease. Exposure to a second or a third language helps children to continue to perceive a wider range of speech sounds, making learning a second language easier.
Begins to mimic the spoken language styles of familiar adults.
At 30 months, the average child says about 570 words.
Continues to over- and under-extend the meanings of words (e.g., a child calls a cow "horsie"), but to a lesser degree for more frequently occurring items.
From 24 to 36 months, pronunciation improves considerably, although certain sounds in certain positions in words are still hard for many children. Parents and caregivers may need to "translate" for others. Children at this age often enjoy chanting, repeating syllables over and over in a sing-song way to explore language sounds.
For the first half of this year, children continue to communicate in sentences that lack parts of speech. By the end of the year, children have picked up most of the parts of speech that make for full and grammatical sentences (e.g., says, "Mommy is getting her purse," instead of, "Mommy purse.").
Adults must continue to provide guidance when helping a child share a personal experience. Children can increasingly provide more in response to initial questions, but many details still need prompting (e.g., "And where did we eat ice cream? Where were we?")
Rarely initiates conversations.
Takes turn in conversations when slot is left open by an adult's question. Child answers more readily now, but adult still must answer some of the questions asked.