How Your Child Learns To Speak

Have you ever wondered how your child learns to talk? Do you worry that they are not learning at a normal rate and that you are doing something wrong? Well if you have any worries or simply want more information about the subject, this booklet will hopefully be the perfect guide to how children learn to speak and at what is a normal rate. But some points to note are: i?? That children develop physically at more or less the same rate and so all normally develop language at about the same time i?? BUT, don’t worry if your child is not exactly at the stage they should be for their age, this is only a guide.

Some children struggle with some parts more than others but he most causes eventually overcome their problems but it may take more time. [image002. gif] The nature of child language It has been suggested that Language Acquisition is a biologically determined process because of the relationship between physical and mental growth. Although this can not be the complete story as some children who do not have any or very limited interaction with other humans do not learn the normal language skills.

Even if children who were deprived from language in their early years and are then introduced into society they fail to acquire any more than a very basic linguistic knowledge. If language was natural to the mind then when these deprived children where put back into society the appropriate triggers would have been provided and they should have acquired language in the usual way. In general terms it would seem that language acquisition is linked to:

Physical Growth – The body has to mature enough for the child to produce recognisable words by manipulating te speech organs effectively and consciously Social Factors – the environment and culture a child grows up will influence the kind of language input they experience A critical age – if input and language experience occur before a certain point in the child’s physical and mental development, learning will be easy, quick, effortless and complete. [image002. gif] The Theories Firstly it might help to understand how your child learns to talk. But the problem with this is, that we do not really know. There are many theories that try and explain the ways in which children acquire language. All of which probably contribute to the journey a child takes in learning the skill of talking.

Behaviourist Approach The behaviourists believe that children learn to speak by imitating the language structures they hear. The main problem with this theory is that very young children don’t repeat language exactly the same way they hear it. Often the child is incapable of precisely imitating adult speech. They may imitate words, but are unable to produce entire sentences beyond their own grammatical ability. For example children do not necessarily use the standard form when it comes to irregular verbs because they hear adults use it.

Instead they over extend the language patterns they already now like break/breaked instead of broke. Granted, as children get older they begin to mimic what they hear in conversations or on television, but generally this doesn’t occur until they have learned the general rules of language and are consciously trying to learn more, between the ages of 2 and 4. Cognitive Approach The Cognitive approach links language directly to intellectual development, for example children will only understand past tense when they understand the concept of past tense.

Also they must be able to recognise and visual and physical differences before they can talk about size and colour. Nativist Approach The Nativist’s believe that children are born with an innate capacity for language development. When the brain is exposed to speech, it will automatically begin to receive and make sense of utterances because it has been programmed to do so. Noam Chomsky an American linguist suggests that the human brain has a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), which enables children to use the language around them to work our what is and what is not linguistically acceptable.

This could explain why most children acquire language skills in the same kind of order and at the same kind of speed and how children are able to understand new sentences and constructions without having any previous experience of them. Interactive approach You often hear adults alter the way they talk to children giving them specific opportunities to take part. This can be called “Motherese”, “Parentese,” or “Child-directed speech” or CDS, is a specific register of language used with young children that helps them learn. You may think of it as baby talk. Characteristics include slower delivery, exaggerated vowels and pitch sounds, commands, tag questions (isn’t it? , aren’t we? ‘ repetition, correction, elaboration, and shortening and simplification of sentences.

Although there is little evidence that CDS aids in language acquisition, certainly the one-on-one communication between child and caregiver influences the child’s desire and ability to communicate and understand basic speech patterns. Also between 18 and 24 months when a child reaches the stage where he is consciously trying to learn language, picking up to several new words a day CDS can streamline the process. [image005. gif] [image002. gif] Stages of Child Language Acquisition 0-4Months Child sounds are mainly reflexive crying.

They are simply expressing their feeling in the only way they can. 4-6 months By this time babies start to make many more sounds. Before speaking words, babies go through a period of babbling in which they are practising sounds, intonations and rhythms of language. They learn to replicate sounds they hear and how moving they tongue and lips changes the sounds they are making. They start to able in response to stimulation and eventually use it to manipulate others by expressing needs and wants. 9-12 Months The child’s babbling becomes more melodic. Intonation starts to sound more like adult patterns.

At first the sounds will be mainly drawn out vowel sounds. Soon they will add constants and repetitive sounds like `da’ then `dada’. 12-20months – Holophrases A child’s first words are produced by approximately 14-20 months of age. They begin with content words. These would include `mama’, `dada’, `book’ and `car’. Although `book’ may sound like `boo’ with the final constant missed off. This will be common in these early stages to leave off constants or constant clusters from the beginning or end of the word. All the utterances at this stage will be grammatically unstructured and each consists of just one word.

The tones the child uses (intonation) to mark different kinds of purposes this well help make it clearer to what the child is trying to say. Children at this stage will acquire around 10 and 20 new words a month. Most of these words will be a naming function like people, clothes, food, toys, body parts and household things. Up to this stage almost all children develop in the same way at more or less at the same time, but after this children’s language becomes much more individual. Normally most children will tend to choose and avoid certain sounds for example `w’ is not normally used until 18-24 months. 18-24 months

By the age of 2 a child’s vocabulary will probably have reached 200. It can go from learning a new word every few days to as many as several new words a day. It is at this stage that a child begins to learn words by imitating. Studies show that `motherese’ is very effective at this stage. As the child nears the age of 3 this becomes less important and children learn new word with out motherese. [image006. gif] Although they are learning many new words at this stage their pronunciation continues to be erratic such as: Words are often shortened with unstressed syllables dropped like `potato’ becomes `tato’.

Constant clusters are avoided like instead of `stay’ it will simply be `tay’ or `ay’. Constants at the end of words are dropped like `bed’ will become `be’ and `yes’ will become `ye’ Many words are simplified using reduplication of sounds like `lili’ instead of `little’ or `bibi’ for `baby’ Initial position consonants are often replaced like `det’ instead or `get’ and `dop’ for `stop’ Questions will also appear at this stage like `where teddy? ‘ Also the first negative words appear like no and not like `no sit’. 2-3 years (Telegraphic Stage)

In this stage only the main lexical words are used to express ideas and many grammatical features are left out like prepositions (on, above, below, under), determiners (the, a, some), inflections (-ing, -ed, `s). It is quite an achievement stage as it shows an understanding of language semantics, not only words, but context and the difference between action and objects. Multi-word sentences also begin between 2 and 3 years old, by 2 years and 6 months children initiate talk rather than just responding to adults. But most sentences are still mostly content words, often strung together in no sensical grammatical order such as `Mommy juice drink’.

Gradually through practice they begin to master the morphology of language and start adding affixes, like `ing’ so `Mommy walk’ becomes `Mommy walking’. They also begin to use function words like `the’ and `is’ and string together grammatically correct sentences like `Mommy is walking’. You may also notice that children become more inventive; creating new words from patterns they have heard but do not remember accurately like buffalosaurus (buffalo and dinosaur). Their pronunciation will also become closer to the standard adult form too. Some immature pronunciation is still typical at this age but some stand will have standardised like the sounds m, h and j.

Between the ages of 2. 8 and 4 some of the harder sounds will be learnt like s, l and r. You will notice the use of features such as auxiliary verbs like `I can’ and `I have’. The increased use of pronouns will also be present. Eventually they master syntax (the grammatical relationship between words in sentences). By this stage a child is certainly able to communicate and will spend the rest of their childhood, and indeed their adulthood, expanding their vocabulary and knowledge of language. [image002. gif]

From 3 years Telegraphic speech is replaced by more fluent and sophisticated language use. Vocabulary continues to expand and diversify and pronunciation continues to become more standard. The structure of sentences will become more varied. Co-ordination like but and and and now commonly used and conjunctions like because, so, if and when help children to create longer sentences. It is normal for children to still be confused by regular and irregular past tense verbs like broke/breaked and broke. This process of understanding language will continue up until like ages of 8 or 9 where still semantics (then meaning of language) will continue to cause problems.

Thus, the nativists claim that language acquisition is innately determined and that we are born with this built-in device, which predisposes us to acquire language. This mechanism predisposes us to a systematic perception of language around us. Eric Lenneberg (1967 …

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