The whole language process starts very young. At six months old, babies can look at books – cloth books or plastic only as they will put them in their mouth. The most important thing is to talk to children and give them periods of undivided attention. Saying and singing nursery rhymes, listening to these with a child and looking at picture books will all develop the understanding of language and speech. Constant stimulation is not wise: quiet times are very important so that the imagination can develop and also so that children may learn how to listen. Probably from the age of eighteen months, a child will enjoy being read a simple story. At three plus, your child can be taught some letters sounds and even pick individual letters and sounds out of print. Four is an age when a child will begin to enjoy listening to a story book with a reduced number of pictures such as The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith, Kamla and Kate by Jamila Gavin or The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton).
At about this stage, magnetic letters can be used to make words such as ‘mum’, their own names (if fairly simple), dog, cat and so on.
The development of clear speech (with whatever accent) will always be valuable.