This chapter is mainly focus on language development. Language is critical to children’s development as it is the fundamental key for learning, communicating, building relationships with others and allows the children to make sense of the world around them. It begins before a child is born. For example, a fetus is able to recognize the speech and sound patterns of their mother’s voice and all languages. Berk (9th ed) revealed that language consists of 5 components namely phonology, semantics, grammar, morphology and pragmatics. Phonology refers to the sounds and intonation patterns of the spoken words while semantics are the words of a language and meaning of those words. On the other hand, grammar consists of 2 sub parts which are syntax, how words are form into phrases or sentences and morphology relates to grammatical markers that indicate number (plural/singular), tense (past, present, future) or gender. Last but not least, pragmatics is related to engaging in appropriate and effective communication.
According to the nativist perspective Chomsky (1957) revealed that all children have a language acquisition device (LAD). LAD is an innate system that allows them to combine words into grammatically consistent, novel utterances and able to understand the meaning of sentences they hear once they obtain enough vocabulary. LAD is a universal grammar where they learn common rules to all human languages (as cited in Berk (9th ed).
On the other hand, according to the language development theories (n.d), cognitive theories are one of the language developmental theories. Piaget revealed that it is important for children to master a concept before applying the language terms into that concept. For instance, they must first understand the concept of seriation before they can use comparatives and superlatives. Besides that, object permanence also plays an important role in this development. Object permanence may lead to a sudden conceptual understanding that affects language development once they have knew that everything has a separate identity and their own life even when they can’t see it. For example, playing peek-a-boo with the children can develop laughter and enjoyment for the baby. This is where the language development starts. However, Vygotsky perceive language as having two separate roles which are communication and thought. According to Vygotsky, thought seems to be a helpful tool for developing understanding and believe that language and thought are interrelated (as cited in language development theories, (n.d).
Additionally, according to language development theories, imitation and behaviourism are also a part of language developmental. Skinner believes that language was a learned behaviour. It is related to nurture, how the way and environment the children are being brought up or nurtured from birth are influences on the child. Moreover, the behaviourist approach argued that children learn language through positive and negative reinforcement. In particular, if they say something wrong, they will be punish, in the same time, they will be corrected as well but if they say something correctly, most probably, they will be rewarded like praise them. Apart from that, imitation is something that we learn through observation. Monkey sees monkey do. The children learn everything through imitation. According to Dancy, R., B., (1987), talking to the children in clear, adult sentences will give a better model to imitate than using the “baby talk.” The first words express pure desire or wish like “Mama”, “Cookie” or “Hurry” to convey whole sentences. The other phrase involves naming things, which is a uniquely human act and shows the developing ability to form concepts about the world outside of oneself.
Lastly are the social interactionist theories. This theory believes that children’s language development can be affected if their social skills and language experiences merge with native capacity (Berk, 9th ed). According to language development theories, child directed speech is use by parents and caregivers to children. It is believe that it help to acquire language more rapidly.
Language or communication development of the three children
First child. The first child name Ivy Ng Ai Wei and is 9 months old. The language and communication milestone of this child was she’s able to makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa” but she is unable to understand “no”, copies sounds and gestures of others and uses fingers to point at things. This child is still in the process of infancy and therefore she is still in the onset of development and learning new things.
Second child. The second child name Chan Chee Hin and is 3 years old. The language and communication milestone of this child is as follows: he is able to follows instruction with 2 or 3 steps, can name most familiar things, understand words like “in”, “on”, “under”, says first name, age and sex, names a friend, says words like “I”, “me”, “we”, “you” and plurals (cars, dogs, cats), able to talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time and lastly he’s also able to carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences. This child has experienced the stage of infancy up to 3 years old; most of their speech can be understood by others as they have learned to pronounce it right. He can understand the basic concept and apply it into the language terms of that concept.
Third child. The third child name Ho Yuan Kuan and is 4 years old. The language and communication milestone of this child is he able to know some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she”, sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus”, tells stories and he could also say first and last name. This child has experienced the stage of infancy up to 4 years old. Language skills usually blossom in between this age.
Comparisons of the Three Children’s Language Development
The first child is still in the infancy stage. This child is still undergoing the process of learning new things and just started to talk. According to Piaget, in order to apply the language terms into a particular concept, they must first understand well a basic concept and they must understand the concept of seriation before they can use comparatives and superlatives. Therefore she’s yet unable to understand “no”, imitate sounds and gestures of others and uses fingers to point at things. This is different with the second child where the child is older than the first child and is able to do say things that the first child can’t. For example, the second child can says words like “I”, “me”, “we”, “you” and plurals (cars, dogs, cats), able to talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time. However the first child can only makes different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”. Lastly, the second child is able to follow instruction, understand and use the simple basic concept into his conversation like “in”, “on”, “under”. As for the third child, he shows different types of ability in understanding the language. Unlike the first and second child, the third child has a language acquisition device (LAD). This is where he is able to combine words into grammatically consistent, novel utterances and able to understand the meaning of sentences they hear after they obtain enough vocabulary. For example, he is able to know some basic rules of grammar like using “he” and “she”. Besides that, he is also able to sings a song or says a poem from memory, tells stories and he could also say first and last name.
In conclusion, language development is part of the important development in children’s growth. Language is the most awesome of universal human achievements (Berk, 9th ed). It is important for children to grow up bilingual, learning at least two languages which can help to provide strong justification for bilingual education programs in schools ( Berk, 9th e.d ) to learn different languages during . Language is important in learning, communicating, building relationships with others and also helps the children to make sense of the world around them. For example, the second and the third child can carry a conversation with others by using their own language unlike the first child who is still an infant.
Berk, L. E., (9th ed). Child development.
Language development theory. (n.d) Retrieved from: http://www.learningdomain.com/lang.devt.theory.pdf
Dancy, R. B., (1987). Waldorf understanding of child development from birth through three years. Retrieved from: http://www.waldorfinthehome.org/2012/03/learning_through_imitation_1.html
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