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12 to 18 Months

Language development has great variability between 0 and 2 years old. The following parameters are only shown as examples. See also Developmental and Language Difficulties – Warning Signs.

  From the age of 12 to 18 months old, the child:

  • recognizes familiar sounds
  • understands between 20 and 30 words and short sentences without gestures
  • has begun to express an idea with a single word (the word-sentence has appeared)
  • can produce two-word sentences, perhaps without properly ordering the words (“Boum bateau” could mean “le bateau fait du bruit”)
  • can pronounce approximately 25% of the sounds of French (at around 18 months old)
  • will speak using verbs, or else the verbs will appear soon

Note: Some authors (such as Boysson-Bardies) believe that a child of this age can understand up to 150 words.  

To find out more...

  • Guide du développement du langage chez l’enfant en milieu exogame (in French with tips and advice in English for language development in a family where the parents don’t have the same mother tongue) | A practical guide for parents of children from 0 to 7 years old by SOFA (Yukon). Written in simple language, it contains useful information classified by the age of the child, and practical advice in French and English for life in a bilingual family (e.g. what the parents who speak different languages can do to support their child's language development). Interestingly, the author suggests the use of a few American sign language (ASL) gestures for the period from birth to six months, to allow the child to express a few basic concepts (I love you, thirst, hunger, etc.) that both parents can understand.
  • Comment la parole vient aux enfants (Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies) Éditions Odile Jacob, 2010, 289 p. | A very detailed reference book on language development from birth to 24 months of age. From the "preparation" of an infant even before his/her birth to the explosion of vocabulary at 24 months, this psycholinguist explores a child’s language development progression, step by step.
  • Votre enfant apprend à parler (Jean-Adolphe Rondal), Éditions Mardaga, 1998, 110 p. | A classic book about the stages of language development in children, written for parents and educators. Written by a renowned specialist, the book reminds us that language learning is rooted in the relationship between the child and the child’s parents. The child’s first words, usually spoken at around the age of 12 months, are preceded by thousands of moments of non-verbal communication (gestures, smiles) and verbal communication (little noises, listening, vocalizations) between the child and the child’s family circle. Each chapter is devoted to a particular aspect of the child’s progress from the first year to the age of six, and addresses the issues of developmental delays and possible language difficulties and what parents can do about them. Each chapter concludes with a list of benchmarks summarizing the concepts introduced, as well as detailed advice for parents to support their children.
  • Tableau de l’acquisition des sons du français selon l’âge (table of French sound acquisition according to age – available in French only).
  • Increase in Vocabulary Understood (graph of French vocabulary progression)