Modelling is an important step in language development. Children pick up vocabulary and grammar by listening to the adults. 

Self talk and Parallel talk are two of the best strategies used to model and develop language. These are the best techniques to employ when your child is non-verbal and even if they are yet to begin speaking!


This is narrating your actions. In this method you talk about what you (the adult) are doing. This is when you speak aloud to yourself in short sentences about things YOU are seeing, hearing, touching or doing when you are with the child. You have to narrate the events in a sequence about what you are doing in a way, that matches the child's language level, so that the child can comprehend it. 

For instance, while baking a cake you might say, “I’m baking a cake. I am adding nuts and raisins. Mmm. It smells yummy. All done!” This reinforces the language in the child’s mind.


  • While baking a cake you might say, “I’m baking a cake. I am adding nuts and raisins. Mmm. It smells yummy. All done!” This reinforces the language in the child’s mind.

  • While cooking, you could say “Look! I’m cutting the vegetables”, I am putting all the vegetables into the pan”, I am mixing them”. Model the bolded words in Avaz. This will help the user associate words to actions and objects. 

  • "Pancakes! Yumm Yumm”, “Mommy loves Pancakes” . Keep it short and simple, use sound effects and silly words (e.g. yummm, chomp-chomp-chomp) Ideally, pick a routine (ex: getting dressed, brushing teeth, or driving to school). This gives you some time for uninterrupted train of thought.

  • Mama is cutting carrots. I am cutting it with a knife. Now it is finished. All done! 

  • Speak what folders  you are opening to find the word - I am going into Fruits folder. Now I am tapping banana.  

Parallel talk

With parallel talk, you are narrating the child’s action. Talk about what the child is doing, seeing, eating, or touching. If your child is looking out the window in the car, talk about what he is seeing. 

This method is similar to Self talk, but here you can talk about what THE CHILD is doing. For instance, “Wow! You are painting a flower!”


  • When the child is looking out into the garden - “You see the tree. It is such a big tree!” Remember that you are not asking questions of the child but rather are just speaking what they would/should. You are simply modelling the language for them. 

  • If the child is looking at a book, you would say “ John is reading a book”, “It's a story book”, ``The book has many pictures” etc. "You want me to read this for you?"

  • At Play time: 

    • You are pushing the car. The car is going zoom zoom. 

    • You are putting the red block on the top. Now you are putting the blue block on top. Next you are putting the yellow block on top.

  • While getting ready to go out: 

    • You are wearing your socks. You are putting on your shoes. You are tying your laces. All done! Finished! 

  • At Bath time: 

    • “Pour water. Soap on. Rinse off the soap. All done!”

  • While brushing teeth:

    • Wash your mouth. Take your toothbrush. Put paste. Brush your teeth. Up, down, left, right. Rinse your mouth with water. All done. Finished!


Why are Self-talk and Parallel talk important?

An important aspect of these two strategies is that you don’t expect your child to respond to or imitate what you are saying. If your child imitates or responds- that’s excellent and do give a lot of positive feedback and up your game accordingly.  


And remember- you want to find a balance here. You could become white noise a.k.a. your child could begin tuning you out if you are constantly talking. Choose a few daily routines and fun opportunities as they show up.


Self-talk comes naturally to some and not for others. It’s okay, just try it for a few days and you’ll be pro in no time! And have fun! 


Resources : Source- Internet

Video on Self talk and parallel talk - by Heather Hayworth (SLP)

Strategies to help your child - Self talk and Parallel talk- By Katie (SLP) - Playing with words 365

Using Self talk and Parallel talk during a familiar routine to stimulate language - by Kim Scanlon (MA, CCC-SLP)