Hesperian Health Guides

Learning to use groups of words

In this chapter:

For a child to begin using groups of words by himself, he needs to know several words so he can put them together in different ways.

Ways to encourage your child to put words together

When your child says a single word, encourage him to expand on what he says. You could:

  • expand on the words yourself and
    encourage him to copy you.
  • ask a question and
    encourage him to answer.
A man and boy speaking as the man pushes the boy in a tire swing.
Say 'push more'.
A man speaking to a boy in a tire swing.
Do you want to push high? Can you say 'push high'?

Here are some more ideas for encouraging your child to use groups of words:

  • Ask your child about what she is doing.
A woman speaking to her daughter, who is mixing a pot.
That smells good! What is in the pot?
  • When your child has a problem, ask him to tell you how to solve it.
2 brothers speaking; the younger one carries a large basket.
The basket is too heavy? What should we do?
  • Ask your child to deliver a simple message.
A woman speaking to her son; her husband works in the fields near by.
Tell Papa,
'come eat'.
  • Try telling stories together. When your child has heard and seen a story many times, she may be able to tell part of it herself.
A man and his daughter tell a story to 2 other siblings.
...and then
the farmer —
— fell in
the river!
  • Encourage your child to act out different roles.
A woman speaking to her son as she puts an apron on him.
Now you be Mama for a while. What does Mama do?
  • Praise him when he puts words together. By using complete sentences, expand on what he says. Talk to him in complete sentences. But do not expect him to use complete sentences yet.
A man and his small son speaking; his older daughter stands close by.
No stop.
Don't stop singing? Okay, let's sing one more song.
  • Share the ideas or feelings you are thinking about as you play together.
A man speaking sternly to his little girl and then hugging her.
Sometimes I get angry at something you do, Li Ming...
...but I love you very much.

Keep practicing the spoken language. Remember, it is important for your child to have a language that all of you can share.