3 Things you Should Know About Child Language Acquisition.

Language is probably the cognitive process that identifies us more as humans. The development of language begins to manifest at 18 months of age approximately and, from that point in time, it continues to develop until the later stages of our lives.

We never stop learning new words and new ways to express ourselves. Human language is quite an enigma for neuroscientists and linguists. Even though they have dedicated more than 100 years to the study of language acquisition, some things remain a mystery.

Let us try to answer some of the most common questions about child language acquisition.

Is language acquisition a natural process, or must be nurtured?

Well, this is a very complicated question to answer. In the stages of child development, there is a space for language learning. In that particular stage, early language is naturally expected from children.

Early language constitutes single words but also sounds in reaction to certain types of emotions. Later, young children will have the natural ability to talk with good grammatical structure and no previous education on language syntactic.

So, language is something that happens naturally, whether parents or caretakers dedicated efforts to teach it or not. However, parents play an important role in the development of a child’s language ability.

Language is also interaction with others. When parents or caretakers talk to children they are helping them with language acquisition. Nonverbal language and self-expression are qualities that a child learns thanks to the environment where they develop. 

If that particular environment is stimulating for the child, language acquisition will flow naturally and without problems.

Why is so easy for a child to learn a language?

This is probably one of the most asked questions when it comes to child language acquisition. A child can speak their native language and a foreign one with virtually no effort whatsoever.

However, when we grow up, learning a language is probably one of the hardest things we can do. It becomes a challenge once we reach a certain age. There is no definitive answer for that question, but neuroscientists think it has to do with children’s brain plasticity.

After a certain “critical period” in our development into adults, our brains lose that capacity to rewrite the different neurological paths and synapsis and that is why it is harder for an adult to learn something new whilst for a child can be as easy as breathing.
Language seems to be something inherited for humans, just like walking. However, nothing is set up in stone in the scientific field.

What can we do as parents to help our children develop their language skills?

Despite the apparent fact that language is a natural, genetic skill for humans, children develop better and more efficient language abilities if they are immersed in an environment filled with stimuli.

Here are some of the things you can do to help language acquisition in babies and young children:

  • For babies and toddlers between 12 months and 18 months.

The famous “baby talk” is actually an awesome tool to nurture and enhance the language ability of the child. Why is that? Because “baby talk” is often less complicated than regular talk. We tend to use short words and simpler grammatical sentences, and this helps the child with the process of understanding language structure.

However, baby talk is not equal to talking incorrectly. It is important to use the right words, pronounce them adequately while keeping it simple with the structure of the sentences.

Children learn by using categories. That is why all the 4 legs animals will be dogs, or cats, or horses, or whatever 4 leg animal they know the name of. Do not correct them too hard. They will learn later the differences between all those animals but right now, calling all 4 leg animals the same is a monumental achievement.

Use phonemes or “sounds” as a way to help them understand certain things. If the dog is a “woof-woof” then a “woof-woof” is. This is also language development.

  • From 24 months and beyond.

Reading to kids is one of the most effective ways to enhance language acquisition. While reading to them, or if they read by themselves, children will expand their vocabulary and understanding of more complex sentence structures and other grammatical rules.

Start by the things they already know. When teaching new words or meanings to your younger children, be sure to start with the knowledge they already have. This will give them a sense of accomplishment and will boost their confidence.

Encourage play pretend. This particular type of play is fantastic to help children to develop language skills. While pretending to be something else, the child will enhance their imagination and creativity. These are paths to abstract thinking, which is the type of cognitive process that leads to language development.

As we always said, there is no such thing as just playing.

The takeaways.

  • Language seems to be natural for humans, but it has to nurture by their surroundings to develop properly.

  • Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to rewrite itself.

  • We must be patient with the early language and the first stages of development.

  • Language is the ability to understand while talking is the act of associating sounds with graphic things. If your child does not speak but understands basic commands, that is a sign for language acquisition.

Spimbey is the place where we care about your children’s development. We will keep bringing these subjects to the table to help you better understand the different stages of growth for your children.

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