Talk as much and as often as you can directly to your toddler. Look at him while you talk. Let him see your face and your gestures.
Repetition is key. If you read him a story, don’t get tired of reading it again and again. Repeat concepts taught as much as you can. Children’s songs are a great way to teach concepts by repetition.
Talk to him as you would any grown-up. Kids say the cutest things, but don’t let these tempt you into mimicking them during conversations. Hearing you use baby talk may just confuse your toddler and won’t help his language development.
Let your toddler see what you mean by matching what you do to what you say. “Off with your shirt,” you say, taking it off over his head; “Now your shoes,” removing them.
Listen to his chatter—and respond. Half the time, we will not know what our toddler is saying, but it will help boost their self-esteem if they know they have an audience. So give your child your undivided attention when he makes conversation, and he will be encouraged to talk more.
Help your child understand your overall communication; it does not matter whether he understands your exact words or not. If you cook something, put plates on the table and then hold out your hand to him saying, “It’s lunch time now.” He will understand that his lunch is ready and will come to his high chair. He might not have understood the words “lunch time now” without those other cues to go with them. He will learn the meanings of the words themselves through understanding them, again and again, in helpful contexts.
Share enthusiasm, emotion and emphasis; whether you are talking about a flood of love for your toddler or a flock of rare birds in the sky, those are the speech qualities that will catch and hold his attention, and motivate him to try and understand what you are saying.
Make ideas concrete. Use visual and auditory cues, but don’t bombard the child and confuse him.
Play some music. Some children respond more to tune and tempo, and may learn faster this way. Such children may be music-smart, one of the multiple ways a child is intelligent, according to Harvard educator Howard Gardner, Ph.D.
Show support for a job well done. When your toddler gets a word right on his own (i.e. he points to his bottle and says “milk,”) be sure to give a few words of praise. Children respond strongly to positive reinforcement, although be sure not to overdo it to the point of sounding forced and faked.
Don’t make the child sit in front of the TV or computer, even for an educational show or website, because he does not get the chance to interact and give feedback.