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 respond to and use a growing vocabulary.

Skill Progression: Respond to and use a growing vocabulary

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Knows familiar people

2-4 Months

Discriminates sounds and voices

4-6 Months

Babbles to communicate

Imitates sounds

6-8 Months

Demonstrates recognition of names of objects by looking at them when named

8-10 Months

Produces a variety of speech sounding patterns in jargon

10-12 Months

Produces single, simple sounds/words for familiar objectsto communicate (e.g., “ba” for ball)

12-15 Months

Uses referential naming (word refers to specific thing): (e.g., The child’s cup, blanky, “Dada,” “Mama”)

Uses social words: (e.g., Says “Hi,” “Bye”; uses a version of “Thank you”)

Produces possessive my, mine

15-18 Months

Produces mostly nouns, including different types of labels (e.g., names of objects, family members, pets, activities, etc.)

Generalizes nouns to other similar objects

Produces a few verbs (e.g., kiss, kick, open, sleep)

Uses some descriptive words (e.g., cold, full, all gone, broken, some, more)

Uses positional words (e.g., down, up)

18-21 Months

Produces the following vocabulary: Agents (e.g., mama) Actions (e.g., run) Objects (e.g., cup) Recurrence (e.g., more) Cessation (e.g., stop) Disappearance (e.g., all gone)

Uses relational words to relate one word to another object or person to something else: Existence (this, more, all gone) Action relational (up, down, bye-bye) Location relational (where object is located) Possession relational (mine)

21-24 Months

Asks for name of object or location of object (“What’s that?” “Where Daddy?”)

Names parts of objects (e.g., body parts or wheel of car)

Uses categorical vocabulary (e.g., trees, animals, toys, people)

Produces mostly concrete nouns (i.e., can be defined by pointing or acting out)

Understands over 300 words (Less than 50 words at 2 years is a red flag for delay)

24-27 Months

Produces number words: Knows numbers one and two and knows “one more”

Understands and uses comparative words (e.g., big, little)

Uses pronouns (e.g., he, me) and possessives within a statement (e.g., that mine, your hat)

27-30 Months

Knows first three count or number words

Uses at least one color description word

Uses over extension (uses one word too broadly) (e.g., all animals with four legs are dogs)

Expands use of relational words (in, on, under)

Uses action/event terms (e.g., bring, take/ snack, lunch)

30-33 Months

Says own first and last name

Uses gender words

Knows directional words (e.g., up, down, out, in); uses differently than location of object

Knows all possessives (yours, ours)

Uses descriptive words (e.g., bad, sleepy, heavy)

33-36 Months

Uses “wh” questions (e.g., what, where, when, who, why)

Knows counting words to 10 (may be inaccurate)

Names a circle when asked “What shape is this?"

Uses pronouns as subjects and objects (I, you, he she, it, we, they; me, you him, her, it, us, them)

Learns 3-6 words a day depending on exposure and experiences

36-42 Months

Uses descriptive vocabulary: Names shapes (circle, square, triangle); names several colors; names sizes; names textures; uses kinship words (sister, grandma)

Infers meaning of words from illustrations in a book

Uses environmental context to figure out meanings of words

Acquires “verbally defined” (i.e. explained by an adult) words that are more abstract (e.g., think, weather, wonderful)

42-48 Months

Names all primary colors

Names examples in a category (e.g., animals, fruits, vegetables, jobs, etc.)

Knows more complex relational words (e.g., in front of, behind, beside)

Asks adult to define word meanings

48-54 Months

Uses comparative terms (e.g., longer, shorter)

Uses terms related to time (e.g., day/night, before/after, early/late, summer/winter, etc.)

Uses word “money” and may know a few coins

Uses counting words to 20

Knows days of the week, some names of months, and some holidays (though may be inaccurate)

Produces metalinguistic language (Anna begins with “A”)

Infers meaning from context of sentence

54-60 Months

Uses comparative terms: Compares weight (e.g., lighter, heavier); names a broad range of colors and shades (e.g., lighter/darker); compares amount (e.g., uses equal, less, fewer, more than)

Uses complex directional and time relational words (e.g., then, first, next, forward, backward)

Names the category when examples are given (e.g., apple, pear, grape)

Uses expanded number words and concepts: Knows counting words up to 100 and names coins

Approximately 70% of vocabulary is concrete

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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