If your little one arrived home before the age of 24 months, and has been home for one year:
- Her receptive language (what she understands) should now be within normal limits for her current age,
- Her articulation (how she produces speech sounds) should be within normal limits for her current age,
- Her expressive language (the words she uses and how she puts them together into sentences), should be at least low average,
- Her MLU (her average sentence length) may be slightly behind average. This means that her sentences may be shorter than her peers' sentences, but not substantially so. This slight lag in her sentence length may last until the age of four.
What, though, if a child arrives home after the age of 24 months? Unfortunately, these adoptions are less frequent and so our information is less complete, making our guidelines a bit fuzzier. What we do know, however, is this:
If your little one who was adopted internationally arrives home after the age of 24 months:
- She will probably lose her birth language quickly, within about three months home.
- You can expect a period of no language proficiency, where she is no longer fluent in her birth language but has not yet mastered her new language. Both of you may experience frustration during this time. Prepare for this, expect this, and work through it. It will pass.
- She should start to develop a significant vocabulary in her new language within 3-6 months.
- She will likely acquire what is called Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) within one year home. This means that she'll be able to use language to interact with others fairly well within one year home.
- Her Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), however, will take longer to emerge. CALP is the language she will need to succeed academically; it includes the more sophisticated vocabulary and language skills that allow her to work with written and spoken language to do things like compare, contrast, analyze, and infer. Depending on the age your child arrives home, it may take her up to 5-9 years to develop CALP. This is an important point to remember because it suggests she may need extra support during her school years, even if it seems like she has mastered her new language during informal interactions with her family and her peers.
*At one year home, children adopted prior to 24 months of age should receive a standard score of at least 80 on the Expressive Communication and Receptive Language sub-tests of the Preschool Language Scale and on the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation.
Glennen, Sharon, (2009). Assessment and Intervention for Internationally Adopted Children: ASHA Self Study. Rockville, MD