What is Speech and Language?

‘Speech’ is the set of sounds that we produce (using our voice and our articulation) that makes up syllables, words and sentences. Speech alone carries no meaning. It is purely different sounds.

There are 3 main components of speech:

1.Articulation (how we make the sounds)

2.Voicing (using our vocal cords)

3.Fluency (intonation and rhythm)


‘Language’ encompasses how we use speech to formulate sentences in order to communicate. Language also consists of 3 parts:

1.Expressive (the words we use to build sentences 

2. Receptive (our understanding)

3. Pragmatics (the use rules of social communication)

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Speech & Language
Milestones 1-2 years



  • Around 2 years, child begins to use a combination of vowels and consonants

  • Speech is mostly understood by familiar people and caregivers

  • Many words contain only a consonant and a vowel (e.g. “ba” for ‘ball’)


  • Combines 2 word phrases (e.g. “more juice”)

  • Uses more than 50 words, understands more than 300 words

  • Follows 1 step instructions (e.g. “get your shoes”)

  • Answers yes/no questions (e.g. “do you want juice?)

  • Often uses gestures (e.g. pointing, reaching)

Speech & Language
Milestones 2-3 years


  • Sounds p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, k, g, ng (-ing), y are typically mastered

  • Speech is typically 50-75% understood by unfamiliar people


  • Combines 3 word phrases (e.g. “I want juice”)

  • Starts to understand the difference between opposites (e.g. big/little, go/stop, up/down)

  • Begin to follow 2 step directions (e.g. “get your shoes and give them to dad”)

  • Begins to name objects when requesting

  • Answers simple “wh” questions (e.g. what is this?)

Red Head Baby
Happy Kids
Speech & Language
Milestones 3-5 years



By age 3-3.5 years

•  75% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners

•  Should produce m,n,h,w,p,t,b,d,g,f,y,tw (as in twin), kw (as in queen) and most vowel sounds

By age 4-4.5 years

•  100% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners, may have pronunciation errors

•  Should produce v, j and gl (as in glow)

By age 5-5.5 years

•  100% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners, may have pronunciation errors

•  Should produce s, sh, th, sp, sw, st, sk, sn, sm, bl, pl, kl, fl, tr, kr

•  Common sound errors may continue to present at age 6 years, such as:  r, l, z, th,ch


•  Follows 3 step directions (e.g. “put your toy on the table, get your coat, and come here”)

•  Begins to use 4 or more words in sentences (e.g. describing day at school)

•  Answers more complicated “wh” questions (e.g. “why is he at the doctors?)

•  Increasing use of grammar when speaking (e.g. plurals, past tense, pronouns)

•  Starts to recognise letters and numbers.