Phonological and Pragmatic Development

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Phonological Development Depends on the Individual

  • Children learn vowels and consonants at different speeds.
  • By the time they're around 2 1/2 years old most children are able to use all the vowels in the English language.
  • They might not use consonants confidently until they are 6 or 7 years old. 
  • Earliest consonants that tend to be mastered are nasals and voiceless plosives.
  • The last ones that are mastered tend to be the 'th' sounds (such as in thought) and other sounds such as fricatives.
  • Children find consonants at the beginnings of words easier than consonants at the end of words
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Phonological Simplification

  • Learning to pronounce things properly is difficult for children but they can still communicate. If they can't pronounce a word as adults do they use a simpler version.
  • There are three main types of phonological simplification

1. Deletion - sometimes a child drops a consonant altogether, particularly at the end of a word. E.G: they might say ca instead of cat

2. Substitution - instead of dropping a consonant, a child might replace it with one that's easier to say. E.G: they might say wegs instead of legs, or tup rather than cup.

3. Cluster reduction - where there are consonant clusters a child might drop one of the consonants. E.G: the child will say geen rather than green.

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Other Features of Phonological Development

1. Addition - when a vowel is added to the end of a word. E.G: dog is pronounced dogu. 2. Assimilation - when one consonant in a word is changed because of the influence of another in the same word. E.G: tub becomes bub because of the influence of the final b. 3. Reduplication - when a phoneme is repeated. E.G: Moo-moo or bik-bik. 4. Voicing - when voiceless consonants are replaces by voiced equivalents. E.G: instead of saying sock a child may say zok. 5. De-voicing - when voiced consonants are replaced by their voiceless equivalents. E.G: instead of saying bag the child may say pag. 

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  • It takes longer to develop intonation.
  • Even at the babbling stage babies begin to demonstrate intonation patterns. 
  • When they start to put words together it becomes even more obvious. 
  • It takes a child a long time to understand the complexities of intonation and stress.
  • Cruttenden - found that 10 year olds had difficulty distinguising between:
    • She dressed, and fed the baby (she dressed herself and fed the baby)
    • She desssed and fed the baby(she dressed the baby and fed it too)
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Halliday - Function of children's language

  • Halliday states that the early language of children has seven functions:

1. Instrumental - to get something (E.G: 'go toily' meaning 'i want to go to the toilet')

2. Regulatory - to make requests or give orders (E.G: 'Not your teddy' meaning 'leave my teddy alone')

3. Interactional - to relate to others (E.G: 'nice mummy')

4. Personal - to convey a sense of personal identity and to express views and feelings (E.G: 'naughty doggy')

5. Heuristic - to find out about the immediate environment (E.G: 'what boy doing?')

6. Imaginative - to be creative through language that relates to imaginative play, storytelling, rhymes and humour (E.G: 'one day my daddy came home and he said...')

7. Representational - to convey information (E.G: 'I'm three')

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Interacting with Others

  • Children quickly learn to interact with others.
  • Babies learn about social conventions even before they can speak. 
  • Even at the babbling stage, a child's carer might respond to their babbling as if they were having a conversation.
  • As a child's pragmatic development continues, they can interact in more sophisticated ways. They will start conversations, use a full range of speech functions and show politeness features
  • They start to use more adult forms of interaction like turn-taking, adjacency pairs and opening and closing sequences. 
  • Non-verbal communication and non-verbal aspects of speech also become increasingly sophisticated as children grow up.
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