Acquiring vocabulary grows slowly. After 1 year a few new words are added each month. The 18 months-old knows between 3 and 50 words and a 2 years-old knows 50 words or more. From then on…vocabulary growth increases so rapidly that between ages 2 and 4 it doubles every 6 months which means that a child is learning several new words every day. The average 6 years-old knows between 8,000 and 14,000 words and an average North American high school graduate about 80,000. That averages more than 5,000 words learnt a year, or 13 words a day! This number far exceeds the 200 words per year formally taught in school. How you did it – how the more than 5,000 words you learnt in a year could so far outnumber the rough 200 words a year that your teachers taught you – is one of the great wonders of human development. Before children can add two plus two they’re creating original grammatically appropriate sentences.
Many 2 year-olds who are learning new words use irregular verbs correctly: came for the past tense of come, went for the past tense of go. They’re simply repeating what they’ve heard. But when they’re older and wiser, they apply the rules of grammar and generalise – they talk about tooths and mouses and people who comed and goed, and come up with statements such as “I finded teddy’ and “I holded mommy’s hand”. These language patterns sound wrong to us, because we have memorised the English irregular verbs. This overregularisation of language is common at the preschool age and once children of this age learn a rule, they can be quite stubborn in applying it! Although technically wrong, overregularisation is a sign of verbal sophistication as children are applying rules of grammar. Children spontaneously correct their speech after hearing the correct forms often enough.
Contact me for more help with NLP and language development. You’ll benefit whether you are a parent or not.