Return to Child Speech-Language Milestones – the Stages of Development

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones 48 – 60 months


Milestones 48 – 60 months

This is a continuation of the speech and language developmental milestones resource from 48 to 60 months (4 to 5 years) .

The rate at which children reach their speech and language development milestones can vary depending on the child and the environment that surrounds them. Some children will develop certain speech and language skills quicker than others. However, despite a bit of difference between children, we expect most children to develop certain skills within a certain time-frame. You will see that many skills mentioned in the content below may be repeated over several age groups as children are all different and some children take longer to develop these abilities. This information sheet is just a general guideline, and many experts vary considerably on what they believe to be the normal stages of development.
To try and make this information easier to read we have created a made-up child called Bill. Bill was lucky, he had a childhood free of any illness or accidents and he had pro-active parents who played with him and gave him lots of quality one-to-one attention.


Speech and Auditory Awareness Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill is totally intelligible to everyone now he has most sounds and clusters perfected – m n p b t d w ng k g h f s y v z l r sh ch j th sp st sk sl sm sn sw tr gr br pr cr fl bl pl gl . Some of Bill’s friends are still having difficulty with r and l, but many children of this age take a little longer to acquire these sounds. Bill only gets tripped up on longer clusters – spr str scr spl, and some clusters in the middle and end of words are still being reduced occasionally. Bill is using 1500 plus words now and his rate, rhythm, intonation and volume are all normal. Bill’s auditory memory can now hold and repeat back 3 – 4 digits.


Expressive Language and Semantics (content) Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill is using up to 1500 words and his utterances are longer and more complex, containing more complicated syntax and concepts (see Morphology and syntax section). Bill uses past tenses correctly and adjectives, pronouns and prepositions are all part of his everyday language. His use of plurals are consistent, both irregular and regular.


Social use of Language (use and Pragmatics) Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill knows and understands the conventions of simple conversations e.g., turn taking, topic maintenance, and is aware when he is breaking them. His confidence continues to grow and he speaks without avoidance or embarrassment. He is confident on the telephone, and he has an awareness of other peoples capabilities, modifying his speech to age of listener.


Receptive Language (comprehension, perceiving and understanding) and Cognition Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill is now understanding up to 2000 words. Bill is also developing another important skill, he has metalinguistic awareness, that is, he is able to think about and comment on what he (and others) are saying. His understanding and thought processes continue to develop and his comprehension is now at a point where he can follow and process instructions containing 4+ information carrying words, or an 8 word sentence. He can follow 3-step commands when items / objects are not present. His story retell capabilities increase and he can retell a story from memory using 5 sentences. Bill can hold a message in his head and deliver it to another person. Bill has learning to count, and can count objects to 4 or 5. He can sequence 3+ pictures and understands opposite concepts. He can name the primary colours on request and identifies crosses, triangles, circles, and squares, and makes comparisons of speed and weight. His imagination is now feeding into his speech and he speaks of imaginary conditions with “pretend” or “I hope”. He can focus on a single activity for 11-12 minutes and he helps plan activities. His understanding of time concepts increases and he can follow language such as “early in the morning,” “next month,” “next year,” “noontime” and the difference between past, present and future and day, morning, afternoon, night. His awareness of concepts related to spatial arrangements, e.g., “in front of,” “behind,” “far,” and “near” also increases.


Morphology and Syntax (structure) Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill’s ability to comprehend complex sentences continues to increase. He is using 5-6 word sentences and he is using compound sentences combined with words such as “and,” “but,” “or,” “so,” and “because,” e.g., “I’m four now but John is only three.” He is also now able to use past and present progressive tenses accurately e.g., “I ate,” “I am going…”.


Gross and Fine Motor Skills Milestones

48 – 60 months

Bill is now learning to dance, skip and walk along a narrow line. He is agile and confident on his feet. His fine motor skills are still developing and will continue to do so for some time. He can copy a square, letters and draw person and house in detail. Bill counts on his fingers, uses a knife and fork and undresses and dresses fully.


Go to our Milestones Resources section for Downloadable facts-sheets about child speech and language development milestones. Click Here


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