Middle Childhood Intervention 6-12:

Category — 2.3 Six to Eight: Language Development

Language Development

Children aged 6 to 8 years speak almost as well as adults. They speak in very long and complex sentences and are even starting to play with words and language. Any sign of language delay should be taken seriously, because it could indicate a difficulty with the process of language, or a deeper difficulty with cognition, which is reflected through language.


Here are some signs of delays in receptive language:

  • child does not appear to be learning new words every week or so;
  • child (closer to age 8) appears to be very literal in his understanding of language and does not understand figurative speech (for example, it is raining cats and dogs, or something similar in your native language if it is not English);
  • child may be able to follow a one-step command, but struggles with two and three-step commands;
  • child struggles with the understanding of the passive form (for example, the dog is chased by the chicken);
  • child appears to struggle with following directions they heard five minutes earlier;
  • child appears not to understand complex spatial terms such as ‘below’ and ‘beside;’
  • child (closer to age 8) has difficulty with complex colors such as purple, navy and grey;
  • child has difficulty with complex and embedded sentences or phrases (for example, the boy whose mother is a doctor was sick today) and seems to only understand basic sentences;
  • child has difficulty with any reference to objects and items that are not in the here and now (for example, talking about something that happened in the past, or will happen in the future).


Here are some signs of delays in expressive language:

  • child uses extremely simple sentences and hardly ever uses complex or embedded sentences and phrases (like: the girl whose cat is lost is very sad);
  • child does not seem to be learning new words on a regular basis (that is: learning a new word almost every day);
  • child is not yet using the passive form, at all (for example, the dog was fed by my mother);
  • child appears to continually (that is, not occasionally) struggle with the usage of the irregular plural, (for example, child might say “mouses” instead of “mice”);
  • child appears to continually (that is, not occasionally) struggle with the usage of the irregular past tense, (for example, child might say: “eated“ instead of “ate”);
  • child uses mainly the present tense when talking, even when referring to events in the future (for example: “Tomorrow I am going to schoo”);
  • child appears to struggle with figurative speech (closer to age 8) and is not yet using any idioms; for example, “having a full load” to indicate they are carrying a lot of weight or they have a lot to do;
  • child does not ask a lot of questions, and when a question is asked, it is asked by simply raising the inflection, at the end of a sentence;
  • child mixes certain words that may have similar meanings (for example, may say “dog” for “fox”);


Here are some signs of delay in articulation:

  • child appears to struggle with basic sounds in the English language (for example: “m” and “p”);
  • child struggles with more complex sounds such as “n” and “r”.


Here are some signs of delays in pragmatics:

  • child appears not to understand some basic non-verbal cues (closer to age 8), (for example, “child is moving away from me, maybe he does not want to play with me anymore”);
  • child constantly interrupts others and does not seem willing or able to wait for his turn, while conversing with others;
  • child seems to struggle with personal space and constantly gets too close to others when talking to them (please note that this varies from culture to culture);
  • child does not seem to understand that in some situations, such as the movies or church, people should speak in a soft voice;
  • child will often talk about something and then start talking about something else (closer to age 8), when conversing with others;
  • child appears to get upset, if he/she cannot get his/her point across;
  • child does not appear to understand jokes.

Did you know?

  • Some children continue to struggle with the pronunciation of some difficult sounds, such as the “r” and the “zh (sound in pleasure)”. It would be a good idea to get a consultation with a speech and language pathologist if that is the case.
  • Children may make silly grammatical mistakes that they never made before. For example, a child who has always used the verb “went,” may start saying “goed” or “wented.” You should not be concerned if your child does that. A younger child saying “went” is just mimicking what adults are saying. This same child, when he or she gets older and starts to internalize the rules of grammar, will sometimes overuse a certain grammatical rule. That is because he or she does not yet know about grammatical exceptions to the rule. That is why this child will now say “goed” instead of “went.”
  • As with verbs, a child may change the way he or she uses regular and irregular plural nouns. Your child, who has been saying “feet” for the longest time, may now start to say “foots.” Again, at this age, this is not a cause for concern.
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May 6, 2012   No Comments