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Language strategies: Repetition

Illustration of adult repeating child's words

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

Repeat… repeat… repeat… repeat… Practise makes perfect.

  • Say new words lots of times as you play or do every day activities.
  • Most children with typically developing language skills only need to hear a new word a few times (about 6 times) before they can say it.
  • Children with language difficulties need to hear new words lots and lots of times (sometimes more than 30 times) before they can learn and use it.
  • Remember to follow your child’s lead. Watch what they are looking at or playing with, then add the word and say it lots of times.
  • Remember to leave a little pause before repeating the word. Your child might want to have a turn to try the word, or to say a different word, or to show you something new!
  • It may feel unnatural at first but repetition is really, really helpful!
A face looking confused with a question mark beside it

Why use this strategy?

  • Repeating a word over and over again allows your child many more opportunities to work out what it means and how it sounds. This way they feel more able to have a go at saying it.
  • Imagine you are learning a new language. You would find it helpful if you heard a new word a few times. This would help you to work out what sounds were in it before you tried to say it. This is especially the case when it is a long or complicated word. This is how it can be for children with even the easier shorter words.

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.

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