Factors Contributing to Variations in Rate of Language Acquistion (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010


Articulation disorders comprise a wide range of problems and may have an equally broad array of causes. Minor misarticulations in the preschool years are usually developmental and will generally improve as the child matures. Occasionally, as children lose their baby teeth, they may experience temporary challenges in articulation. However, articulation problems that seriously impede a child’s ability to communicate needs and intentions must be diagnosed. Causes of such problems may include malformation of the mouth, tongue, or palate; partial loss of hearing due to a disorder in the inner ear; serious brain trauma; or a temporary hearing loss due to an ear infection (Copeland & Gleason, 1993; Forrest, 2002).

It is important to remember that some children may simply show delayed language development; this may mean that a child is gaining control over speaking mechanisms at a slower rate than same-age peers or has had limited opportunity to hear speech or interact with others. Children who are learning a second language may also appear to have articulation difficulties when they attempt to use their second language. Anyone learning a new phonemic system will experience some difficulty in expressing new sound combinations. “Bilingual children should be assessed in their native language and referred for therapy only if an articulation disorder is present in that language” (Piper, 1993, p. 193). Caregivers and teachers need to be careful not to confuse the normal course of second-language acquisition with speech disorders.

Typical Pronunciation Development

Three-year-old Annie points to a picture of an elephant and says, “Yes, that’s a ella-pant.”

Two-year-old Briar sees her favorite TV show and shouts, “It’s da Giggles!” (Wiggles).

Two-and-a-half-year-old Robbie asks his grandma, “Gigi, can I have some tandy?” (candy).

Parents both delight in and worry about these darling mispronunciations, which are a normal part of the language development process. Most mispronunciations are usually caused by a combination of children mishearing sounds and misarticulation of new words. Most of these mispronunciations self-correct with maturation.

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