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Suffolk Center for Speech


Late Language Emergence and Enhanced Milieu Teaching

Late language emergence refers to toddlers exhibiting delays in the onset of language in the absence of other disabilities or developmental delays. Children with late language emergence do not meet the typical speech and language developmental milestones. They may experience challenges in vocabulary acquisition, oral language production, and language comprehension. Additionally, a child with late language emergence may present with decreased use of gestures, slow development of sentence structure, and a shorter mean length of utterance (MLU). 

Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT) is a child-led, evidence-based intervention approach that incorporates the child’s interests and uses all communicative attempts as opportunities to model and expand language. Using the EMT approach, the clinician sets up an interactive environment that enhances communicative opportunities for the child. It is vital to respond to all of the child’s communicative initiations and attempts in order to encourage continued use of language. This can be accomplished by modeling and expanding play actions and communication targets. Research shows that this technique has had positive effects on both expressive and receptive language skills in children with late language emergence. 

-Samantha W. 


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Late Language Emergence. https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/late-language-emergence/

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., & Kaiser, A. P. (2017). The effects of play-based intervention on vocabulary acquisition by preschoolers at risk for reading and language delays. Journal of Early Intervention, 39(2), 147-160.

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