The language timetable

man in gray shirt holding baby in white onesie

Your baby is at the stage when they are really starting to get to grips with language, and although they may not have any words yet, they understand a lot. Most likely they will be beginning to start producing language-like sounds and babbling at this age, and those babbles will increasingly start to sound more like words and get used to refer to specific objects, people or activities.

One of our surveys in the Children of the 2020s study asks parents to list all the words their baby is able to understand, so that we can follow these developments as they happen over time.  

Once babies get to the end of their second year, language learning rockets. In the first year, babies will most likely learn how to say a handful of words. By the time they are two, it might be as many as a hundred, or more. By the time they are three, it’ll be more like a thousand. Then you won’t get a word in edgeways!

One curious thing about learning language: babies are born into the world being able to hear all the sounds of all human languages, and it’s only as they get to learn their own language that they slowly begin to lose the ability to pick out sounds that are not used in their own language. This happens gradually and is probably why hearing the sounds of other languages and being raised bilingually make it easier for people to learn other languages more fluently later in life. 

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