Years 1-2 Use of Language

What is it?

Expressive language means your child’s use of language, including the words they use and how they can combine words in sentences. As children develop, their vocabulary increases and they can use more complex sentence structures.

What to expect?

In Years 1 and 2, children can usually:

  • Use language in a range of situations and for a range of purposes e.g. to get needs met, ask questions, respond to questions and share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Retell a story or share their news in a logical order and including past, present and future tenses.
  • Form a range of questions.
  • Use sentences of at least 5 – 7 words at age five years.
  • May still make some grammatical errors e.g. irregular past tense “I wented to the park”.

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Providing a good model for the child. Speak clearly and not too quickly.
  • Giving time for the child to respond. Don’t be afraid of silences as these may encourage the child to ‘fill the gaps’.
  • Commenting on what the child is doing to allow them to hear the appropriate language. Avoid the use of too many questions as this can put pressure on the child and aim to give at least 4 comments to every question that you ask.
  • Using modelling strategies e.g. repeating back what the child has said using correct grammar or expanding on the information the child has given.
  • Not asking the child to repeat back (‘parrot’) exactly what you have said. However, the child may do this spontaneously.
  • Avoiding asking questions that require only a yes/ no response, e.g: instead of asking “did you fall over?” ask “what happened?”
  • Pre-teaching, overlearning and revising key topic vocabulary – please see resources for more details on words maps, spinner games and how to expand vocabulary in the classroom.
  • Using a story planner to support the child to retell a story or their own experience. Please see the resource section for an example.
  • Encouraging the child to talk about words they can’t recall, please see resource section for strategies on how to help word finding.

Watch our video on using words, sentences and beyond.