Learning to Listen (LTL) sounds and phrases build your baby's listening and talking skills.
Your baby will learn to detect, discriminate, identify, and say these sounds, words, and phrases through the meaningful interactions they have with you. LTL sounds and phrases are used in your daily, play, and social routines.
Developmentally, babies first learn to understand beginning vocabulary and then begin to say their first words and word combinations. Using the LTL sounds and phrases will support your baby at the ages and stages to reach their developmental milestones. They're a key step on your child's journey to becoming a great conversationalist.
Not only do they help your baby to hear, understand, and practice early sounds and vocabulary, they're also fun! Some examples include "moo" for cow or "choo-choo" for train. They also include phrases like "wave bye-bye!" or "Mmmm. That's yummy." While these sounds, words, and phrases may seem simple, your baby's brain is hard at work using them as the building blocks to listening, language, and literacy.
The LTL sounds are based on early milestones for understanding language, how language is used, and speech development. Their specific acoustic properties make them easy to hear for most children with hearing loss when wearing their devices. Your child's responses to the LTL sounds can help you and your early intervention team learn important information about what your child hears with their devices.
Adapted from Ellen Rhoades, Ed. S, LSLS Cert. AVT
We have a checklist of the LTL sounds and phrases. Many of the sounds relate to things you’d find at home. The sounds on the list were chosen because they’re easy to hear for most babies wearing hearing devices and fun for babies and parents to play with together. They also follow normal language development.
View the LTL Sounds and Phrases Checklist
The LTL sounds and phrases differ in every language. Check out our Spanish LTL sounds and phrases checklist.
Use the LTL sounds to build sound awareness, attach meaning, and begin language practice in everyday routines. These early sounds and phrases will build a strong foundation before your baby moves on to use full sentences in conversation. Keep track of the sounds and phrases your baby hears and says to share with your early intervention professionals.
Young babies need to hear and learn to recognize lots of different sounds. Your baby with hearing loss will learn to detect the sounds around them. You can help by using the LSL strategy Hear It Before They See It. Introduce the sound first, point to your ear, name the sound, and then show the object to help your child build meaning.
While sitting with your baby, make a sound and observe their reaction. Do they stop moving, turn their head, or look at you? This tells you they hear the sound. Help them match the sound to objects by exploring the object as you name it and repeat the sound. If they did not turn to the sound, get a little closer and present the sound again.
Your baby's brain makes new connections by hearing you use words and phrases associated with a sound or experience. Your baby will quickly begin to recognize differences between sounds and words, and their meanings. With every LTL sound, add the word for the item, actions associated with it, and phrases that give it meaning to grow your baby's listening brain. Use lots of vocal intonation to make the sounds and phrases memorable and fun for your baby to listen to.
"Aaaaaa, you heard the airplane! I heard the airplane too! Here it comes flying through the air. Here you go." Hand your baby the airplane, then say "Look, it has wings to fly and wheels to land."
"Neigh, here comes the horse" then click your tongue as the horse comes clomping toward your child.
Babies as young as 6 months can start to imitate some LTL sounds. As you have back-and-forth conversations together, use LTL sounds and phrases to encourage them to vocalize and try them out. Use the LSL strategy It's Your Turn during these familiar routines. Pause, wait, and look expectantly to give your baby time to vocalize and practice using their voice with these familiar sounds.
Between 9 and 12 months of age, your child understands a wide variety of different LTL sounds and phrases and their meaning. You can expect your child to follow simple routine directions, identify objects, and carry out actions just by listening.
During playtime with multiple LTL objects or toys, notice if your child can choose an object by name from the group of choices. "Listen. Moooo. I hear the cow. Where is that cow?" This helps you know if your child understands the object by its name or sound.
Use LTL phrases during everyday routines and interactions. Remember to have your child hear the phrase or direction without showing them what to do. Try ones like "Give me a kiss," "That's hot!" or "It's your turn."
By the time your baby's been listening for 12-15 months, they'll likely understand most of the items on the LTL checklist and be able to use many of them to communicate. You've been their guide, helping them connect meaning to these sounds and phrases during your everyday experiences. Now that your child has a strong foundation and is using words to communicate, you can move beyond the LTL sounds and phrases to using the object's true name or label during conversations.
If your child is using real words for phrases such as "I hear the doggie" instead of "woof-woof." Use the strategy Beyond the Here and Now to keep the conversation going all about dogs and help expand their vocabulary. "Yes, you hear the dog. That's a big dog. He's got lots of fur. I bet he's soft!"
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Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Thousands of parents have been in your shoes. Find other parents who can share from experience, offer encouragement, and help your family reach your LSL goals.
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