Modelling language to babies is a crucial role for whānau. As pēpi attempts words, repeat the word back to them, affirming the attempt. Using the word in context supports language acquisition and encourages baby to join words together in small sentences.

Why do it?

  • Hearing a new word together with a word baby already knows strengthens baby’s expressive language.
  • Repeating baby’s word is a good way to show them that they’ve been understood.
  • Whānau can use this technique in the context of other games and activities with baby.

How to do it

  • When baby begins to use words, repeat them back using the correct version (but without correcting baby), and then add another word.
  • When baby begins to use 2 words, give baby back 3, and so on.
  • For example, if baby points to a person in a photo, say the person’s name, and add a word or phrase, like this: ‘Daddy. Daddy’s at rugby’.
  • Use this technique of adding another word to a known word, whatever game or activity you’re enjoying with baby.
  • Try not to ‘correct’ baby by saying things like ‘No, that’s not yours that’s Jacob’s shoe’. Instead encourage their attempts with, ‘Yes that looks like your shoe doesn’t it’.

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
He aha tō kōrero? What did you say?
Talk, communicate
Kupu hou New word
Strengthening, developing
To explain, clarify
Do it again
To know, understand
Kōrero anō Say it again
Pronunciation and sound of a language
Sentence, phrase
To hear
Kei te kite ahau he... I see a...
Kei te rongo ahau he... I hear a...
Whakarongo mai, e te tau Listen hear, my darling
Encouragement, urging
Applaud, cheer
Ka pai koe Well done you
Kātahi te pēpi mōhio, ko koe What a clever baby you are