Communication and Expression

Language Development

Expressive Language (Speaking)

Goal 1: Young children use increasingly complex vocabulary and grammar to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

By the end of each age group or grade level, most children will have met prior age group or grade level standards in this domain.

Infants Through Older Toddlers


(0-12 Months)

  1. Vocalize and use gestures to communicate (e.g., wave hi/bye)
  2. Babble (e.g., bah bah, ma ma) and jabber (e.g., bada)
  3. Mimic the intonation of adult speech (e.g., rise to question)

Young Toddlers

(9-18 Months)

  1. Combine gestures and words to communicate thoughts, feelings, needs (e.g., shake head ‘no’ with a vocal ‘no’)
  2. Name familiar people, objects and animals (e.g., says mama when see her)
  3. Speak clearly enough to be understood by people who are close and familiar
  4. Say at least 25 meaningful words (consistent and recognizable to caregivers)

Older Toddlers

(18-36 Months)

  1. Speak in 2-5 word sentences (e.g., I go home)
  2. Omit some words in a sentence (e.g., “the”, “is”)
  3. Overgeneralize saying some irregular verbs or plural incorrectly (e.g., “goed” rather than “went”)
  4. Use negatives and add descriptive words when speaking
  5. Say 50 or more words in home language
  6. Ask simple questions
  7. Speak clearly enough to be understood by strangers but some speech sound errors are still heard (e.g. ‘My fumb (thumb) hurts”)
  8. Respond to questions
Younger Preschoolers Through Kindergartners

Younger Preschoolers

(36-48 months)

  1. Use details when describing activities and experiences
  2. Speak in complete 4-6 word sentences
  3. Use correct forms of common irregular verbs and plurals (e.g., “went”, “saw”, “men”)

Older Preschoolers

(48-60 months)

  1. Use sentences with more complex grammatical structures when speaking (e.g., embedded clauses, such as “My teacher, who likes dogs, is nice”
  2. Engage in storytelling
  3. Combine 5-8 words into sentences.
  4. Use different forms of language for different purposes
  5. Use abstract and increasingly detailed and varied vocabulary when speaking (e.g., use “turquoise” rather than” blue” or “I want to fly into space when I grow up”)


  1. No standards in this age group for this Element.
First Graders Through Third Graders

First Graders

  1. No standards in this age group for this Element.

Second Graders

  1. No standards in this age group for this Element.

Third Graders

  1. No standards in this age group for this Element.

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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