Even new born babies soon learn to communicate.  They return smiles, they giggle and wave, and then comes the gobbledegook – the practise sounds that all babies try out.

After all, they’ve been able to hear for quite a while: 18 weeks after conception. So, they grab at their chance to try out all the things they've been hearing, all those sounds.

I’ve been told that by the time they are 18 months old a child will have vocalised every type of sound humans use in language, but gradually some sounds are allowed to fall by the wayside and only those used by the people around them will remain.

I keep hearing about how hard it is to learn a language when you are older, but just think about how much harder it must be for a child. They probably hear thousands of words each day and have to work out which ones are important: ‘Do you want a drink?’  Which of those words refers to the contents of a cup of milk?  And yet they make remarkable progress, to the envy of many adult learners.

Once they begin to realise that ’Do you want..’ always accompanies the offer of something - food, a drink, a kiss.’ They start to put the two parts together and usually come up with, ‘Want drink’.

Adults already know the concept of a structured sentence, and so we learn in a very different way. We may learn vocabulary as single units, but we naturally want to use whole sentences, practically from the beginning.  

We learn to say ‘My name is ….’ And then ‘Your name is ….’ ‘His name is …’ and so on. We are using model sentences.  Maybe we should just point and say "Want milk".  

We have a commenting on these pages now, so if I give you some model sentences can you come up with a variation for each one?  

You can change any word, the subject, the object, the adjective, adverb or the verb. Try to use some new words from the dictionary.  Look up synonyms in an online thesaurus for some ideas.

1 She was very tall and always wore a red coat.

2. He sat down slowly, taking care to look straight ahead.

3. The footballer ran quickly down the field towards the open goal.

4. The fat man and his skinny dog were to be seen strolling slowly though the park every day.

5. The vase was somewhat overfilled with pink tulips and white narcissi.

6. The golden eagle landed in the very top of the larch tree, just out of sight of the birdwatchers in the hide.

7. The balloon bounced and bobbed along on the end of the string as the child ran along the winding lane.

8. The cream cake looked delicious, but she knew how fattening such things are.

9.  She sang merrily, happy to be alive in springtime.

10. The smelly cheese was his favourite snack, and he always ate it with crunchy celery.