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Language Development in the Young Child (page 4)

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

Despite these differences, researchers generally agree that adults play a very important role in the child's language development. First, adults provide a linguistic model from which children learn vocabulary, expressions, articulation, and so on. Second, from the earliest days of life, adults and children engage in a variety of verbal dialogues that teach children not only language skills, but also social interaction patterns. Finally, by reading to children, parents give children some of the requisite skills and interests that promote their later literacy.

Before leaving this section, it might be well to highlight one practical point that recent research has made quite clear. I have already emphasized the importance of parents and other adults talking to and reading to young children as an essential part of their linguistic growth. Such interaction helps build the child/s auditory, or listening, skills. These are critical for learning to read. When young children watch too much television, more than an hour or two a day, they may not develop the necessary auditory discrimination skills that are critical to learning to read. This is true because when young children watch television, they often do not listen. It is easier for them to get the information visually. We all take the path of least effort, but this path will cost children dearly when they set out to attach printed words to sounds that they cannot clearly discriminate. Limiting young children/s television watching is essential if we wish them to develop the listening skills they need to become accomplished readers.

Young children, then, make enormous progress in intellectual and language development. Despite these enormous accomplishments, they still have a long way to go before they can fully comprehend the language and thought of the adult world. This is in no way a negative description of young children, but only a realistic statement regarding the extraordinary complexity of the cognitive and linguistic world that the child must master and a recognition of the large amount of time and effort that is required to get a better understanding of our world.

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