North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Language Development and Communication (LDC)

Subdomain: Learning to Communicate

Goal: Children speak audibly and express thoughts, and feelings, and ideas clearly.

Skill Progression: Language production

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Vocalizes to parent’s smile

2-4 Months

Cries differently for pain and hunger

4-6 Months

Imitates sounds and mouth movements needed for speech

Says “mama”/”dada” without meaning

Demonstrates pleasure and displeasure by vocalizing

6-8 Months

Vocalizes to protest

Vocalizes during games

8-10 Months

“Sings” along with familiar songs

10-12 Months

May produce first word

Uses social gestures (e.g., bye-bye wave)

Points to known people and objects

12-15 Months

Unintelligible except for a few words, mostly with consonant-vowel sequence

Uses social greetings

15-18 Months

Accurately imitates some words

Uses commands ("Stop it" "Don't")

Protects own things (“Mine”)

18-21 Months

Produces language to express refusal; “No” is common

Produces verbs

Produces two-word phrases or telegraphic speech (words imply a whole sentence)

21-24 Months

Names objects

Produces words more than gestures

Produces two-word combinations (e.g., agent-action [ball roll], action-object [roll ball], agent-object [me ball], action-location [ball chair], possessor-possession [my ball]

24-27 Months

Produces two-and three- word phrases; makes simple statements (e.g., “More juice.” “Me do”) and asks questions about objects, people or events (“What that?”)

Uses negative sentences for nonexistence (no cookie), rejection (no nite-nite) and denial (no break)

Produces possessives

27-30 Months

Produces two- to four-word phrases or sentences (agent + action + object is the most common, along with agent + action + location)

Modifies nouns in an object position (e.g., Daddy is a big man.)

30-33 Months

Produces imperative implying “you"

Converses about people, places, and objects that are not present

Demonstrates awareness that sentences need noun and verb phrases

Produces utterances that describe physical characteristics (“big doggie”)

Produces negative before a verb (“no go”) as well as “no,” “not,” “can’t,” “don’t

33-36 Months

Produces declaratives, negatives, questions, and imperatives

Produces complex sentences

Produces spatial, comparative, and temporal concepts in discussion

Produces and, but, and because to combine sentences

36-42 Months

Connected speech intelligible

Produces pronouns appropriately

Uses word order to understand communication

42-48 Months

Produces complex sentences with prepositional phrases (e.g., The dog is behind his house), “wh” clauses (e.g., “I went where the horse live”), simple infinitives (“I want to go to bed")

48-54 Months

Describes how to do something in detail

Retells stories and events in sequence

Creates songs and rhymes

54-60 Months

Produces full range of sentence types

Produces 4-8 word (or longer) sentences

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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