Language is the network of using words to communicate. It includes using words and gestures to say what we mean and comprehend by understanding what others say.
Language development is the process by which young children come to understand and communicate during early childhood. It begins before birth. A baby begins to hear sounds and speech from outside the mother’s body towards the end of pregnancy. Infants are extremely accustomed to the human voice and prefer it to other sounds in the environment. Based on research, infants prefer the higher pitch characteristic of female voices.
Children learn their language through what they hear and perceive in their surroundings. Also, interactions with family and friends play a great role in language development. Research has shown that a large percentage of children likely respond to speech sounds as compared to non-speech sounds. They are very attentive to the human face especially when someone is talking. A child will communicate through a variety of ways before they can talk. A baby will use eye contact, laughing, crying, smiling and gestures. Children will develop their receptive language before they will begin to produce speech and language. Everyday interactions with people around them is vital for the development of communication. Although crying is a child’s primary means of communication, language immediately begins to develop through repetition and imitation tasks.
Normally, the development of language in children is generally a natural progression. Babies usually make sounds at two months of age. Babbling begins when they are six months old. At one year of age, a child typically speaks in a jargon type manner. By 15 to 18 months, a typical toddler understands much more than he or she is able to put into words. When a child is 18 months old, a burst in the way he or she talks is noticeable. At 24 months, a child knows how to utter and use at least 50 words and starts to use two-word phrases.
The stages of language development are universal among humans. However, parents should always remember that the age at which children reach their language milestones varies from one child to another. In general girls are more advanced than boys. Others develop their language skills more gradually and slowly. From birth up to five years of age, children develop language at a very swift pace. After the age of five, it can become a little more challenging for children to develop language skills because the skills are becoming increasingly more complex and advanced.
As parents, you will be your child’s first and important teachers. There are a lot of strategies and techniques that you and your child can do at home to develop language.
- Get your child’s attention – you need to face and look your child in the eye. Eye to eye contact stimulates better learning.
- Have fun together – use actions, gestures and sounds. Expressions help get their attention and make them appreciate the interaction much better.
- Comments not questions – make the activity a conversation. Comment on what they are doing and what is happening.
- Give them time to think – give them the needed time to think and comprehend what they heard. This way they will be able to respond accurately.
- Use simple language – keep your phrases and sentences short.
- Repeat what you say – repetition is very important for them to be able to understand and learn new words.
- Make it easier for them to listen – turn off any distraction while you’re interacting with your child. This way they will be able to focus and learn.
- Speak in your home language – home language is always the best. It is the foundation of language development.
- Build on what they say – adding one or two words to what your child says really helps your child move to the next stage of talking.
- Show them the right way – show them that you understand when they make mistakes.
These are just some simple ways to help enhance your child’s language development during daily routines and everyday activities.