Sunday, September 23, 2018

How we learn to speak

It's amazing to me how mini humans at one point grow up to be adults. The whole process of growing up and everything around it captures me.
Therefor I decided to school myself to know as much as possible for my future dream job.
I'd like to share what I learned about language development. 

The primair goal of of language is to communicate efficiently. 
So, how do we start?
A baby has one very effective way of communicating with it's surroundings. It cries.
And they do so to let us know they need something. A changing, food, protection, or affection. It is a very effective way that ensures this little human that it will get what it needs.
Parents will use baby language. This happens naturally and will get the most attention and response from the young child. They speak in a high tone, with a strong intonation, the sentences are short and a question mark is often used.
What is amazing is that within a month after birth the baby is already able to recognize phonemes which is the ability to make the slightest distinction between sounds in the language. For example the the e in between sounds different at the beginning of the word than at the end. They already learn the difference. Most likely this a nature aspect. We are born with this ability. This process is also responsible for how we learn our first language. It filters to the sounds of our native language. After 6 months the baby starts to babble away making combinations of sounds it picked up listening to it's parents. We can tell that the baby is doing this to communicate as it will do it more often in the presence of people. After 7 months it is quiet when being spoken to and babbles when the other listens. This is the first big milestone in communication.
Two conditions for acquiring language are:

  • Listening - they listen to the way words sound and save that knowledge before they can actively speak. We call this the phonological aspect of language.
  • Wanting to learn
The second one may sound odd to you, but there are kids that are born with communication disorders.

Autism is one example of that. Early signs may be

  • The baby doesn't babble as much
  • Seems less interested in social surroundings
  • Seemingly avoids eye contact
  • Says their first word later than usual
  • Does not support words with gestures (example pointing at something)

Kids will usually say their first word upon turning 1 year old.
It shows that for the first time they are able to make a mental representation of something that exists outside themselves. Those first words refer to unique objects or people that capture their interest. Mommy, daddy are common first words. But it could also be their favourite cuddly toy.
With their first words the prelingual phase of language development ends. The early-lingual phase starts
Before their second birthday the will combine words. Mainly nouns and some verbs related to their little world.  One word can have tons of different meanings. Usually the intonation and supportive gestures can make clear what the kid is trying to say. The child progresses to use two word or three word sentences.
Between 2-5 years old they come into the differentiation-period.
They get more sense of grammar but are likely to find exceptions on words difficult. They will make mistakes such as worstest instead of saying worst. The less common the use of the words the more likely they will make that mistake. Between the age of 2,5 - 3 years old the child will learn to adapt the distance between them and the person who is listening. They also understand that that they have to align their message to the language level and skills of the other. They will learn more about the pragmatic aspect of language. Which relates to the social rules around it.
In the school period the language of the child is much more like that of an adult and it will continue to learn more and more about how to use the grammar and expend their knowledge of the semantic side of language. The meaning of the words. They gain the insight that language has rules. Wee call this
metalinguistic awareness. Whilst some in Social Learning Theoretics claim that learning language can be induced by rewarding your kid such as reacting enthusiastically when it babbles or speaks, philosopher Chomsky had a different perspective. He believes we are born with the ability to develop language and highlights the originality of a child's language. Like the way they use self-conceived words. He claims kids have their own primitive grammar. He pointed out that they can discover grammar rules and learn to apply them.
I've always been interested in languages myself and how develop them. It is such an amazing thing.
Communication is survival. It's been that way ever since the old age.

Hopefully you found this article that is somewhat different from my other blog posts interesting.

Love and blessings,


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