Language development is a process that begins in infancy and continues throughout childhood. Stimulating language skills in babies and young children is extremely important for the development of both receptive and expressive language skills. Throughout infancy and childhood, children will listen to and copy models of adult language that they are exposed to. Modeling is an easy and important strategy to stimulate language development, and it can be used all day long in any context or situation you choose! Whether you are in the car, at the grocery store, or playing at home, modeling appropriate language for your child is one of the easiest ways to provide the stimulation he or she needs to boost language development. Giving your child a model or example to follow improves comprehension and vocabulary acquisition, and facilitates your child’s expressive abilities. Modeling for language stimulation is not a strategy that requires your child to respond. Rather, it provides an appropriate example for your child to learn vocabulary or practice expressing later. 

 When your child is first learning to use words, modeling should be short and simple. As your child’s vocabulary and language skills continue to develop, models can grow to match their skills. When modeling, it is important to keep your child’s level of expressive language in mind. Are they speaking with only one word at a time? Limit your sentences to one or two words. Are they speaking in two-word or three-word sentences? Model four-word sentences for them. Matching your child’s length of utterance gives them an attainable model, and will facilitate both comprehension and successful expression. A few modeling techniques you can start using with your child are described below:

 Self-talk or self-narration

When using self-talk, you describe your actions in real time as you perform them. This strategy pairs words with physical actions, and provides a good model for understanding and using new words. Use slow, simple, clear phrases. Here are some examples:

  • “I wash hands. Pick up soap. Wash, wash, wash! Dry my hands!”
  • “Where are my keys? Keys, where are you? Are they in my pocket? No. Are they on the table? No. I see them! They fell on the floor!”

 Parallel-talk or others-narration

This strategy is similar to self-talk, except you are describing the actions of your child as he or she does them, rather than describing your own actions. Step into your child’s shoes and talk about what he or she sees, hears, feels, or does. Here are some examples:

  • “You are building a tower. Your tower is tall! Your tower is getting bigger!” 
  • “You love teddy. You kiss teddy! Teddy is soft. Hug teddy!”


Expansion involves taking what your child has already said and adding information to it. Be careful not to add too much – just one or two extra pieces of information. This provides your child with a model of how to integrate more information into one sentence. As a general rule of thumb, try to add only one or two words to what your child says. Here are some examples:

  • Child: “Car go!” Adult: “The car goes fast!”
  • Child: “Daddy!” Adult: “Daddy home!”

For children with more language who use longer utterances, this may look like adding different adjectives, or modeling a compound sentence. Here are some examples:

  • Child: “This car goes fast!” Adult: “Yes, this red car goes very fast!”
  • Child: “Baby cry. Baby hungry!” Adult: “Yes, baby cries because baby is hungry.”


This strategy is focused on modeling how to use descriptive adjectives. You can use this while describing the toys or real-life objects that your child is interested in or using. This calls the child’s attention to attributes of the toy, and provides concrete examples of a variety of vocabulary. Here are some examples:

  • “Fast car! Blue car! Car stop!”
  • “This ball is big. This ball is small. Balls are fun. I like the red ball.”


Recasting is a great strategy to use when your child is making errors with grammatical markers, such as verb tense or plurals. When recasting, simply say the same sentence your child said, but correct the error to give them a correct grammatical model. Here is an example:

  • Child: “The cheetah runned so fast!” Adult: “Yes, the cheetah ran so fast!”