Tips & Tricks For Parents

Talking Tips With Your Child: Using Expansion and Extension

When your child is first learning to put words together, it can be tempting to use simple words or sentences with them. For example, you may repeat the two and three word phrases they are using. It is important to remember that language is like sound. If your child has poor input to sound then their speech production will also be poor. Similarly, if your child only hears two and three word phrases, then they will only learn to say such short phrases.

Through using language strategies such as expansion and extension, you can encourage your child to learn new language.



To expand a phrase, try adding descriptive language to a word your child is using. For example, if your child says “dog” then you might say “yes, it’s a big dog”. Adding the word “big” introduces your child to new language. There are many ways you can expand phrases for your child. Here are some options:

  • Size: big, small, huge, tiny, enormous, little, petite, bite-sized, large, giant
  • Color: red, green, spotty, striped, patchy, multi-colored, rainbow, pink
  • Skin or textures: hard, soft, fluffy, furry, slimy, scaly, rough, hard, bumpy, rocky
  • Smell: smelly, fragrant, sweet, stinky,
  • Emotions: angry, happy, sad, scared, nervous, frightened, worried, upset
  • Numerical: lots, many, few, some, heaps, one, two, three
  • Personality: wild, tame, frightening, friendly, scary, fierce, intimidating, adorable, funny
  • Verbs: running, crying, jumping, dancing, rolling, hopping, skipping, writing, dreaming, sleeping



When we extend a phrase, we add other elements and ideas to the word your child is using. For example, if your child says “daddy”, then you might say “yes, daddy is working at the office”. By adding an action and/or location, you introduce your child to new language related to the word that they already know (daddy). There are many ways you can extend the phrase for your child, here are some:

  • Actions: running, jumping, working, dancing, sleeping, cooking, getting dressed
  • Locations: they are at… the park, school, work, the market, kindergarten, home
  • Feelings: they are feeling…tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, angry, frustrated, happy, excited
  • Home activities: they are… having a bath, cooking dinner, washing the car, decorating a cake, getting dressed, packing up the toys, reading a book, washing the dishes
  • Role: they are a…policeman, fireman, nurse, doctor, shopkeeper, gardener, teacher, audiologist, therapist, friend
  • Likes and dislikes: they like….eating, red shirts, dancing, taking photos, playing the piano


There are many more techniques that you can use to extend your child’s language, such as acoustic highlighting and natural repetition. Do you have any tips of your own? Share them below!



Thanks for your message. We will reply as soon as possible.

Send us a message

Field is required

John Doe

Field is required

Field is required

What do you think?

Send Message

Processing Comment

Sorry. There was an error. Please try again.

Thanks for your feedback. Your comment will be published after approval.

Leave your comment