By Child Development Institute and Alvademy
Many students stress out over the fact that they don't reach the new language level they wanted in the amount of time they planned. If you are one of those students, the reasons are that you are probably demanding too much of yourself or because many language schools or sales representatives told you that you were going to be fluent in the new language in 3, 6, 9 months or 1 year.
If you are trying to learn a new language in a short period of time, first consider how children learn. Have in mind that everyone learns differently and certainly you will learn a lot if you start studying the new language. It will also depend on how consistent and disciplined you are, if you pay attention in class, and if you have all of your questions answered and resolved. Additionally, it will make a tremendous difference if you study, learn, and practice the new language you are learning everyday. How fast you learn a new language also depends on many factors such as how good your memory is, if you know how to speak other languages, your age, having previous knowledge of the language, etc.
Read the following article to know if you are actually going to be fluent in a new language as quickly as you or someone thinks you will. Don't let others fool you just because they want you to enroll in their courses. Before you enroll in a language course, remember that time and patience will be your best allies in learning a new language.
Language Development In Children
Language and communication skills are critical to a child’s development. Good communication makes them better able to engage in socialization as well as learn from formal classroom instruction and the environment around them.
Communication involves both speech and language
Speech is the verbal means of communication, and language is using shared rules to put words together to express thoughts and feelings. Since parents are a child’s first teacher, knowledge of language development in children improves a parent’s ability to interact with their child to stimulate and guide them to understand and communicate with their environment.
There are four main components of language
Phonology involves the rules about the structure and sequence of speech sounds.
Semantics consists of vocabulary and how concepts are expressed through words.
Grammar involves two parts. The first, syntax, is the rules in which words are arranged into sentences. The second, morphology, is the use of grammatical markers (indicating tense, active or passive voice, etc.).
Pragmatics involves the rules for appropriate and effective communication. Pragmatics involves three skills: a) Using language for greeting, demanding, etc., b) Changing language for talking differently depending on who it is you’re talking to. c) Following rules such as turn-taking and staying on topic.
From birth on, children are programmed to develop speech and language. The first five years are most critical, but language development continues throughout early childhood and into adolescence. During the first five years, stimulation of language development is essential as the brain is developing new nerve cells as well as multiple connections between these cells to serve the function of expressive and receptive language. Lack of stimulation during this time could result in a child making slower progress or end up with poor communication skills. Later, we provide some tips for parents on how to help with language development, but some simple suggestions are to spend lots of time talking, singing, and reading to your child.
In the early stages of language development, the brain is programmed to attend to speech sounds and begin to mimic them. Early on, babies like to make sounds up on their own. Later they attempt to repeat sounds and words they’re exposed to from their environment.
Children usually say their first words between nine and 18 months old. The most common first words are either “mama” or “dada.” What’s interesting is no matter what language children are taught, the first words usually reference either mother or father.
By about 18 months, a child usually has a vocabulary of 50 to 150 words. Children at this age begin to put a couple of words together to form a sentence sometimes referred to as “telegraphic speech,” such as “Mommy ball” or “Mommy throw ball.” By two-years-old, they can typically use over 300 words and understand about 1,000 words.
Around three years of age, children begin to use language for all kinds of things. They’re not only trying to get what they want by asking, but they’re also talking about past experiences and even beginning to use it to pretend. By preschool (4 ½) they’re beginning to understand and use the rules of language to express possession of something, connect thoughts and quantify. Their language is becoming more like that of adults.
In elementary school, children continue to expand their use of oral language and are also learning to read a write. As children progress through middle school and high school, they continue to expand their vocabulary, refine their grammatical skills and write in more complexities as well as continue to develop reading comprehension skills.
The tables below describe specific skill development for each stage of development through age 8. Below the developmental timeline, you’ll find information on how you can stimulate and encourage language development as well as information on how to recognize lagging development and what to do about it.
Things Parents Can Do To Stimulate Language Development
Verbally respond to your baby’s vocalizations.
Talk to your baby.
Around six months of age, use shared attention and sign language (gestures). Point and name things that they see. Use an exaggerated voice when you describe things. Use feeling words.
Sing to your child from babyhood until they ask you to stop.
Have older children make up songs.
Use songs to communicate things such as time to go to bed, time to clean up, etc.
Make up songs that are silly or that communicate affirmations related to their positive qualities.
Older Toddler and Preschooler
Initiate conversations with your child related to recent events and what they’re doing.
Make up stories along with your child where each contributes. This not only stimulates language, but thinking, creating, and a sense of humor.
Gradually increase the complexity of grammar and vocabulary you use to communicate.
Provide children with expanded information about events, as well as things they see and how they feel.
Read interactively to engage their participation. Ask questions, use dramatic inflections, let them guess what will happen next, point to pictures and describe them, and ask your child to do the same.
School Age and Beyond
Keep the conversations going.
Have family meetings.
Have dinner together at the table and encourage conversation. You can use “Thorns & Roses” by each family member sharing one thing that went wrong and one thing that well during the day.
After seeing a movie or TV show together, talk about what happened. Encourage reading. When they finish a book, ask about their thoughts and feelings.
Check out the timelines and look for delays. Remember that there is quite a range of time for the achievement of each milestone. If you feel there is a delay, discuss it with your child’s primary care physician.
Look for poor eye contact and lack of attention and focus.
Listen to how they pronounce words. Are they hard to understand?
Can they understand simple directions? Are they having trouble with basic social skills?
Does your child not seem to be interested in having you read to them?
Do they repeat what you say or say the same thing over and over?
Do they lack empathy for the feelings of others?
Do they avoid conversations? Are they only interested in talking or reading about one subject?
Is your preschooler not engaging in fantasy play? Do they lack a sense of humor?
Language Development Time Lines
1. Infant (Birth to 18 months)
Birth to 6 Months
Vocalization with intonation
Responds to his/her name
Responds to human voices without visual cues by turning his head and eyes
Responds appropriately to friendly and angry tones
Six to 12 Months
Uses one or more words with meaning (this may be a fragment of a word)
Understands simple instructions, especially if vocal or physical cues are given
Is aware of the social value of speech
12 to 18 Months
Has a vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words
Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns
Some echolalia (repeating a word or phrase over and over)
Much jargon with emotional content
Is able to follow simple commands
2. Toddler (18 months - 3 years)
18 To 24 Months
Can name a number of objects common to his surroundings Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under
Combines words into a short sentence—largely noun-verb combinations
Approximately 2/3 of what a child says should be intelligible
The vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words
Rhythm and fluency are often poor
Volume and pitch of voice are not yet well-controlled
Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, and you—although me and I are often confused
"My" and "mine" are beginning to emerge
Responds to such commands as “show me your eyes, nose, mouth, hair”
Two to Three Years
Use pronouns I, you, and me correctly
Is using some plurals and past tenses
Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under
Knows some parts of the body and should be able to indicate these if not name them
Handles three-word sentences easily
Has around 900-1000 words
About 90% of what the child says should be intelligible
Verbs begin to predominate
Understands most simple questions dealing with his environment and activities
Relates his experiences so that they can be followed with reason
Able to reason out such questions as “what must you do when you're sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?”
Should be able to give his sex, name, age
Should not be expected to answer all questions even though he understands what is expected
3. Preschooler (3 years to 5 years)
Three to Four Years
Knows names of familiar animals
Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate his understanding of their meaning when given commands
Names common objects in picture books or magazines
Knows one or more colors
Can repeat 4 digits when they're given slowly
Can usually repeat words of four syllables
Demonstrates understanding of over and under
Has most vowels and diphthongs and the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established
Often indulges in make-believe
Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities
Understands such concepts as longer, larger, and when a contrast is presented
Readily follows simple commands even though the stimulus objects are not in sight
Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds
Four to Five Years
Uses double negatives
Can answer how, who, and when questions
Follows up to 4 step directions
Uses the third person
Tells simple jokes
Says his full name
Knows an average of 900 words
Shows rapid language development
Uses sentences that are three to four words long
Mispronounces 40 percent of speech sounds
Enjoys listening to stories
Understands more words than he is able to use
Asks simple who and what questions
Tells simple events in sequence
Demonstrates beginning phonological awareness (hearing and recognizing the sounds of language)
Uses words to express ideas and feelings
Usually follows requests and can be reasoned with
Five to Six Years
In addition to the above consonants these should be mastered: f, v, sh, zh, th, l
He should have concepts of 7
Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships between objects and happenings
4. School Age (6 years to 8 years)
Six to Seven Years
Should have mastered the consonants s-z, r, voiceless th, ch, wh, and the soft g, as in George
Should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp, short-long, sweet-sour, etc.
Understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc.
Should be able to tell time to quarter hour
Should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words
Seven to Eight Years
Begins to use reference books
Enjoys reading aloud
Enjoys mysteries, adventure stories, and biographies
Adjusts language and vocabulary to fit an audience, topic, or purpose
Develops vocabulary from textbooks and personal reading
Gives precise directions and instructions for more complex activities and tasks
Tells and retells stories in a formal storytelling format using descriptive language, story elements, and voice to create interest and mood
Demonstrates effective listening skills by exhibiting appropriate body language
Uses a variety of simple and compound sentences of varied lengths
As you can see, learning a language for children is not something they learn in a short period of time. It takes years and years of repetition, practice, studying, and learning. Therefore, when learning a new language, don’t be too demanding of yourself. Never lose hope and be patient! Remember that learning a new language is the product of years of learning, studying, and practicing. Enjoy your language courses and have fun. Meet new people and make new friends. At the end, you will realize it was worth it!