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Language strategies: Modelling

Language difficulties are nobody’s fault, but changing the way you talk can really help your child.

How do I use this strategy?

When you talk to your child, use language that matches their language level or one step beyond.

Illustration of adult modelling what a child is doing

If your child has no words, try modelling single words. For example:

  • ‘dog’, ‘apple’, ‘train’, ‘juice’

If your child has some single words, model more single words and some 2 word phrases. For example:

  • ‘eating apple’ and ‘drinking juice’

If your child is using some 2 word phrases, model more 2 word phrases and some 3 word phrases. For example:

  • ‘boy eating apple’ and ‘girl drinking juice’

It is important to match the level of your child. It will help them to learn language, without stopping them from making progress.


Don’t worry if your child doesn’t copy the language you use, it is important that they hear your examples.

You can model language during your daily routine, for example, reading a book, playing a game.

Why use this strategy?

Modelling at your child’s language level and one step beyond can help them to:

  • learn new vocabulary
  • hear how to put words together
  • listen to examples of the next steps for language development
  • extend their language use
  • copy back or practice new words or phrases

By using language at your child’s current language level, you are reducing the demands on their language, as you are not expecting them to use the same complex sentences you can use.

Additional resources and information

These videos are part of the Weekend Words series and explain and demonstrate how to use language strategies in everyday activities at home.

Information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication: Speech and Language UK

Activities for parents, children and young people to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home: Words For Life

An article on: Helping Your Child to Talk

Helping you help children to communicate: The Hanen Centre

The Giving Voice campaign aims to ‘give voice’ to people with speech, language and communication needs: Giving Voices 

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL32

Resource Type: Article

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