LanguageDevelopment in Children
LanguageDevelopment in Children
Languageis an important communication tool for all humans at differentstages. In babies, language development enhances the child’sabilities to communicate, express and understand feelings. It alsoleads to expression of feelings of the child and promotes the child’sproblem solving skills (Siegler, 2006). It is therefore important tounderstand how language is attained in the early stages so as tostimulate its development in children. During the course of thissemester, I have learnt a lot that pertains to language and speechdevelopment in children. This has helped me understand how childrenlearn to communicate with others from simple to complex terms. I havealso learnt the major theories that talk about language developmentas well as the role that parents and other significant individualsplay in the language development of children. This paper is aself-reflection on child language development and various factorsthat influence it. The paper will focus on an imagined case below:
“Tom’sparents are anxious and ready to facilitate their son’scommunication skills language acquisition. Am in a languagedevelopment class, information on how children develop speech andlanguage skills. His parents want to know whether there are ways toaccelerate Tom’s communication development. Tom’s parents haveacquired software’s and videos meant to accelerate Tom’s languagedevelopment, and they wonder whether they are effective in enhancinglanguage development. How reading can enhance language development”.
Myname is (yourname),a Chinese international in the United States. I was born and raisedin Changchun, China. Currently, I am an international student in theUnited States. I came to the United States in (insert the year here),for further studies. Currently am a student at (insertname of your school)University, undertaking my degree in (insertname of degree).One of my classes this semester is language development class, whichentails learning about skills on how children develop language andspeech skills.
Languagedevelopment is one of the amazing developmental aspects in children.It is a development that all parents look forward to. However,different children have a different language development and theacquisition schedule with some acquiring the skill early, whileothers may leave it late. According to Craig and Dunn, (2010) theability of children to communicate starts in their mother’s uteruswhen the baby learns to recognize and distinguish the mother’svoice from that of others. Once the baby is born, languagedevelopment occurs differently according to the developmental stageof the baby, as well as the environment he/she is in. Thisdevelopment is influenced by nature and by nurture. Despite thedifference in language, all children have the same pattern ofdevelopment(Craig & Dunn, 2010).
Thereare different ways that parents should adopt in order to encouragethe aspect of language development among their children. One of thebest and most used methods deployed to encourage language developmentis through speaking together between the children and the peoplearound him/her naturally and frequently. Parents and caregivers areencouraged to always talk to babies, respond to them each and everyday and keep introducing new words to him. Reading to the baby alsoenhances language development.
Itshould be known that, language development is influenced by bothbiological and environmental factors surrounding children. TheBroca’s area in the brain is involved in the production of wordswhile the Wernike’s area is involved in the understanding oflanguage (Siegler, 2006). Despite one having normal biologicalsystem, the interaction with other human beings helps a child todevelop his/her language capabilities. For example, if one stayedwith animals, he/she would never learn to talk due to the differencein communication between animals and human beings. This is because,animals use signs that are inborn instead of language that isacquired and animals have limited communication as compared tohumans. Furthermore, after birth, the child becomes aware of thesurroundings, including sounds that are produced those next tohim/her. They respond to noises by crying, being startled or wakingfrom sleep ("LookWho`s Talking! All About Child Language Development").As a result, it is important to start talking to the childimmediately after birth so as to train him/her on communication andstimulate the brain to learn the language. This helps to avoid alanguage development disorder or delay.
Fromthe age 0-6 months children communicate without a specific aim(Lanza, 2008). For example, the child may cry because of feelinguncomfortable rather than needing to be changed. The child identifiesthe sound of various individuals such as that of the mother or dadand can differentiate the two. The child may also calm down or crymore in response to someone’s sound. The child also developsdifferent cries for different needs for example crying when hungry isdifferent from crying when wet (Lanza, 2008). At the age of 3 months,the child can afford a social smile, prolonged eye contact and cooing(Lanza, 2008). The prolonged eye contact is nonverbal communicationshowing recognition. The smiling shows reciprocating of interactionand cooing which is normally the first sound that the child producesshows the child’s attempt to talk. It is important to coo back orrespond as this motivates the child to continue.
Thechild also learns to make happy noises the moment they recognize afamily member. At around 4-6 months the child learns how to babble.This includes words such as ‘babababa’. He/she plays around withthe different words, experimenting her skills and with time thebabbling becomes more complex. After 6 months, the child learns tovary tones (Lanza, 2008). He/she also starts to respond by turningtowards the direction of sound, especially when his name is called.He also starts to respond appropriately to friendly and unfriendlytones crying if spoken to in a harsh voice.
From6-12 months, the child uses meaningful word. This could be one or twowords such as mum or dad. He/she also understands simple instructionsand understands simple words such as dog,dolland byebye.The child also gestures to interested items such as toys. The childalso demonstrates joint attention as well as object permanence wherehe knows of the existence of different objects despite him/her notseeing them. At around 18 months, the child learns a few nouns moreso those of surrounding objects. He/she also exhibits repetition ofwords said by a person as well as follow simple instructions (Lanza,2008). By 24 months the child can name most objects present in hissurroundings. He/she also learns to make a short sentence with 2/3 ofwhat they say making sense ("Lookwho’s talking! All About Child Language Development").However, the child is not fluent and cannot control the pitch. By 36months, the child can use plurals of most things as well as pasttenses. He/she learns most parts of the body and names them withoutdifficulty. He/she learns more words and can make three wordedsentences comfortably. 90% of what the child says is intelligent. Thechild also understands and answers questions correctly. Can say hisname, sex and age correctly.
At48 months the child learns more new words regularly. He/she can carryout simple instructions such as “throw the ball” understandsimple questions and answers correctly (Lanza, 2008). The child alsoenjoys stories and songs and normally asks for them. At 2 to 3 years,the child has learnt a word for almost all the things and can use avariety of sounds. At 3 to 4years the child communicates effectivelywith family members and can answer questions. He/ she can alsonarrate stories and occurrences, especially at preschool. At 4 to 5years, the child can listen to simple stories and then answerquestions about it correctly. They also tell relevant stories and canrespond well to what they are told since they understand it. Theyalso use sentences that give lots of information and easily interactwith others. The child also speaks most of the words correctly andcan nursery rhyme some. Language development still continues evenafter 5 years throughout one’s life.
Differentlearning theories have been coined by different psychologists overtime. This has led to diverse approach to the aspect of learning orhow human people learn different aspects in life. Apart from thelanguage developmental milestones, there are also some theories thatexplain language development in children. TheNativist Theoryby Naom Chomsky, which argues that, ‘the ability to learn languageis acquired at birth. Children are born with a Language AcquisitionDevice (LAD) which refers to an area in the brain. The LAD helpschildren in developing their language (Craig& Dunn, 2010).This theory believes that linguistic input alone from the environmentis not a good source of learning as it is full of errors andtherefore the LAD comes into play. We can use this theory to manage a20 month old baby by stimulating the LAD ourselves by speaking to thechild. The children learn to imitate what they learn from theenvironment, as the LAD continues to be installed with newinformation’s and sounds. This in turn contributed to the making ofthe sounds as well can differentiate sounds used in any languagesystem. With the natural drive in children towards attending to thespoken sounds /words, they try to sort out their meaning and henceuse them to make sense of their environment and in turn form a basisof communication.
TheEmpiricist Theory,on the other hand suggests that the environmental input is enough tohelp children develop language as they are born with a “blankslate”. The sensory experience of children in their early stageshelps them to learn how to talk (Craig& Dunn, 2010).As a result this theory can be used to help a 20 month old baby indeveloping language by providing sensory stimulation to the baby.This can be either through talking, cuddling, singing or reading ofthe baby. Reading delivers a variety of words to the baby, which, ifdone continuously helps him/her to emulate the common words. Theparent should therefore communicate to the child regularly asexperience is what leads to learning. This in turn stresses on theimpact contributed by the environment, and hence the interaction withthe environment and people around the children play a key roletowards language development and communications aspect in children.The interactionist theory proposes that children learn how to talkfrom associations with their caregivers (Berk, 2009). The caregivershould be attentive to the child so as to identify major milestonesin the acquiring of language and then promote positive languagehabits. They should interact with the child and talk to them even ifthey do not respond. The caregivers should also promote interactionswith other children and people.
TheBehavioristTheoryby B. F Skinner proposes that language is learnt through operantconditioning. Reinforcement and punishment play the biggest role inlearning. When the child tries to speak and is reinforced, he/she ismotivated and ends up learning the language fully. On the hand, thelack of reinforcement is a de-motivator and may lead to delayedlanguage acquisition (Craig& Dunn, 2010).Caregivers should therefore reinforce a child’s attempts tocommunicate. This may be by showing interest in the child’s skillsand making the same sounds that the child is making. It is importantto provide an environment full of conversations as this fastens theprocess of language acquisition. Siblings, family, friends andrelatives should also talk to the baby slowly and quietly if they getan opportunity to. However, relations with so many individuals can beconfusing for the baby. The people who interact with the baby shouldalso try as much as possible to use the same language since manydifferent languages at the same time can be confusing to the baby.
Thebehaviorist theory has been used to explain the aspect of languageacquisition and the impact of mother tongue. The basic tenents of thebehaviorist theory include the ideas that, the primary medium oflanguage is oral, and speech is language. In addition, the theory isof habit formation theory language teaching and learning. Inaddition, the theory entails stimulus-response aspect as the stimulusimpacts the rate of language acquisition and the aspect ofcommunication in children. Finally, the theory entails the idea that,learning is referred as the establishment of habits fromreinforcement and reward, and in turn the children acquire intendedlanguage through reinforcement and reward from the people aroundhim/her
Otherinputs can be used to fasten the process of language development inchildren include the use of picture book reading (Siegler, 2006).This involves the reading of a book that blends art with language.The pictures stimulate the child to explore the world above theirimagination as well as make connections between the pictures and thereal world thus promoting language development. The use of videos andtelevision does not seem to improve language acquisition in babies.This is because such do not interact well with the child unlike ahuman being who can imitate and respond to the child’s efforts byreinforcing them. They also do not respond to the child’s ideassuch as the need for a toy. Therefore, the best way to acceleratelanguage acquisition is mainly by talking to the child as frequentlyas possible, reading to them, telling them stories and responding totheir leads.
Withreference to case scenario and the knowledge obtained throughout mylanguage development class, and issues related to children languageand speech development skills, there are different ways that can beadopted by parents and baby caregivers/teachers that can help inaccelerating communication skills development in children. Moreover,the videos and software’s acquired by the parents can play asignificant role towards language development of their son (Tom).It’s clearly evident that, the most important tool for languageacquisition in childhood is the interaction between the child and thesignificant others. Therefore, a child should be actively engaged inconversations from birth. This helps avoid delays in languageacquisition as social interactions. With reference to the theoriesdiscussed on language development, Tom’s parent shouldn’t beworried, but instead should engage their son in language acceleratingdevelopment techniques such as always talking to their son, readingto him and with him, enjoy music together, tell stories, alwaysfollow his lead, and to never criticize his speech patterns. Finally,Tom’s parents should reduce the use of software’s and videos, andembark on one on one communication with their son.
Berk,L. (2009). Child development (8th Ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn &Bacon.
Craig,G. & Dunn, W. (2010). Understandinghuman development.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education/Prentice Hall.
Lanza,J., & Flahive, L. (2008). Guideto communication milestones: Concepts, feeding, morphology, literacy,mean length of utterance, phonological awareness, pragmatics,pronouns, questions, speech sound acquisition, and vocabulary.East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems.
LookWho`s Talking! All about Child Language Development. (n.d.).Retrieved April 21, 2015, fromhttp://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/language_development/
Siegler,R., & DeLoache, J. (2006). Howchildren develop(2nd ed.). New York: Worth.