The Role of Parents in Promoting Language Development
From infancy to early childhood, one undeniable change takes place - children learn to talk. In cultures around the world, young children's rapid language development represents a language explosion, with words and sentences bursting forth. By age 6, the average child has a vocabulary of over 10,000 words because during these early years children learn words at the rapid rate of 10 to 20 new words per day through a process called fast mapping (Gray, 2006). Furthermore, even though different languages have different subject, verb, and object placement, young children's word placement matches the grammatical structure of their native language from the time they first string two words together. Moreover, young children demonstrate an understanding of verb tense in their language (Allen & Crago, 1996).
An example of preschoolers' knowledge of verb tense is demonstrated in the following example. The young child who says "I played with Sally today" comprehends that ed is added to a verb to represent past tense. When that same child says "Sally and I goed to the park," the child is still demonstrating a basic understanding of past tense. In the second example, the child uses overregularization, whereby a standard rule of past tense is applied to the English language, which has many exceptions to the standard rules. The remarkable advances in language development during the preschool years are further exemplified in young children's social speech. Preschool children are extraordinarily adept at producing socially adaptive behavior in their verbal communication. For example, 4-year-old children speak differently to 2olds when they see themselves in a teaching role than when they are attempting to engage a younger child in informal play. Additionally, young children's speech reflects the social skills of turn taking and topic maintenance (Woodward & Markman, 1998).
What This Means for Professionals
There is no question that the preschool stage of development is an impressive time of language development. The extraordinary growth of vocabulary that occurs during the preschool years is matched by an impressive understanding of basic grammar and socially adaptive language. There are, nevertheless, variations in language development and these variations can be traced to parent-child interactions. First of all, preschoolers need to hear new words in order to learn them. It is, hence, beneficial for young children when their parents continually engage them in verbal dialogues and respond to their questions and other verbal comments. Young children's language development (especially vocabulary expansion) is further promoted when adults label new things for them. For instance, a parent might point to some animals the child sees at a distance and say, "See the deer are running across the field." In less than a minute, the words deer and field enter the child's vocabulary.
Finally, whereas the language development that occurs during the preschool stage is impressive, young children's pronunciation takes a little longer to perfect. It is important that parents do not attempt to correct their young children's pronunciation because that approach actually hampers their preschoolers' language development. Instead of calling attention to their youngsters' mispronunciation, parents should respond to their preschoolers' speech as if they had pronounced the words correctly. In their responses to their young children's mispronunciations, however, it is important for parents to repeat back the words correctly, thereby modeling the correct pronunciation. For example, the child might say, "Mommy, Daddy said we are going on a twip!" In response, Mommy could say "Oh yes! We are going to go on a trip!"
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- The Homework Debate
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory