A Language Concept List for Preschool Teachers

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Preschool Language Concepts Simplified

Language is communication. Young children are excellent observers and grasp non-verbal communication quickly. Understanding the complexity of verbal communication requires much more practice. A quality preschool program develops language concepts and skills in a thoughtful, deliberate manner. This article will give you the information you need to determine which concepts and skills you need to address with your children in an easy-to-understand format.

Preschool language concepts are arranged in three categories: Listening and understanding, speaking and communicating, and vocabulary development. We will discuss each category and then list some of the concepts and skills necessary for children to succeed in school and in life.

Listening and Understanding

Listening is difficult, understanding can be almost impossible. Adults have trouble with these skills. We tend to want to say what we want to say when we want to say it. We often are forming our response before the other person is finished talking. It is very important to start early helping children learn to take the time to listen. From there, we can move to understanding.

Every day, talk to the children. Every day, read to the children. Set expectations for quiet, and eye contact before you start talking. Be sure they’re interested in what you’re talking about. At first, you may need to call each child by name to get their attention. As you talk, stop when the children start talking. Remind them that they need to be quiet to listen to what you are saying. Ask questions to establish if they understand.

Skills associated with listening and understanding

  • Answers to name
  • Completes simple directions
  • Understands and responds appropriately in a conversation
  • Listens to stories, songs, rhymes
  • Answers simple questions about a story

Speaking and Communicating

We need to communicate. We want to express our thoughts and ideas. We want to talk. Young children do, too. Imagine the frustration of young child trying to getting a need met when s/he doesn’t have the skills to do so. Behavior issues are inevitable.

There are many things we can do each day to help children build their speaking skills. Let children talk. The more they talk, the more they will be able to share their thoughts. Give them time every day to engage in conversations with their classmates. During activity time, children will talk with their peers about what they’re doing. Listen to the children. Give them the same attention you give a colleague. Don’t finish their sentences. Ask questions to be sure you understand.

Skills Associated with Speaking and Communicating

  • Speaks clearly
  • States needs and wants so they are understood
  • Speaks in more complex sentences
  • Uses personal pronouns appropriately; I went. She said etc.

Vocabulary Development

Children have an amazing vocabulary. However, there is still a need to increase their understanding and use of words. Understanding stories and conversations depends on recognizing the words used. Telling stories, retelling events, and expressing needs, depends on knowing what words to use.

We can help the children by identifying words in stories that they may not know. We can explain those words before we start reading or as they appear in the story. Either way, we increase their vocabulary. When discussing science or social studies, ask the children what they think a word means. Are they correct? If not, your lesson can go wrong. When in doubt, explain the word,

Skills Associated with Vocabulary Development

  • Indicates an object when given name
  • Names objects
  • Tells about a recent event
  • Uses correct tense when speaking
  • Speaks with a complex vocabulary


  • Extend ability to comprehend language
  • Convey ideas with words
  • Apply newly learned words in everyday conversations


  • When given pictures of animals, the child will point out the dog.
  • When give a picture of a dog, the child will name the animal as a dog.
  • The child will follow a two-step direction. Example: When told to, the child will put away activity and go to circle area.


You may want to use this language concept list for preschool to show parents and administrators exactly what is expected from with today’s young learners. Language includes listening, speaking and vocabulary. By developing these skills, young children can understand what is said and communicate their thoughts, wants and needs.