Language development refers to the process of deliberate communication using sounds, gestures, or symbols which can be understood by other people (Machado, 1985). Language is double perspectives process which forms the basis for other forms of learning. These two aspects include communicating information, and listening to others (Training Module, 2007).
Existing theories acknowledge early childhood as a period during which physical and cognitive developmental processes occur rapidly. These developments form the basis upon which personal success will depend. Language development is one such process that fully depends on the factors presented during this phase of personal growth (Otto, 2010).
Children undergo various stages in their acquisition of language skills. The following phases depicts a typical sequences through which the skills develops, although their are diversities in the pattern of growth from child to child (Corporation for National Services [CNS], U.S. Department of Education, U.S. department of Health and Human Services, 1997, cited in Training Module, 2007).
Stage 1: – concerns a newborn, whereby it responds to sounds including voices through cries, smiles and coos.
Stage 2: – concern infant aged between 3 to 8 months; the time during which he or she begins to play with sounds, as well as babbling to others in conjunction to self. Also, in this stage language development is expressed through the waving of arms and kicking of legs.
Stage 3: – concerns children aged between 8 to 12 months and she or he understands and can react to basic words and signs.
Stage 4: – deals with children of age 12 to 18 months, the period during which a normal child starts to utter basic words and to follow very basic instructions. In addition, a normal child knows its name, and can chatter with a sequence of syllables that mimic expressions.
Stage 5: – concerns children aged between 18 to 24 months old; the level at which a child can construct two-word phrases, and imitate words and gestures of the grown-ups. It can also ask as well as answer general queries.
The process of promoting language development in children must take into consideration the development stage of the child. The following are some of the ways through which a child’s parent or caregiver can promote language development pertaining to the stage of development (Training Module, 2007).
Newborn: Reaction to the child’s cries indicates to the child that s/he can communicate something to you and get a response (Lagoni et al, 1989, cited in Training Module, 2007).
3 to 8 months: it is encouraged that during this stage, the child’s custodian sings to the child while changing his or her diaper. Also, it has been discovered that playing peek-a-boo to the infant enhance language development (CNS et al., cited in Training Module, 2007). Also, the caregiver or parent is encouraged to describe daily routines to the child while performing them (Machado, 1985).
8 to 12 months: During this stage it is commended that the parent or caregiver uses the baby’s name repeatedly, perhaps by incorporating the name in simple rhythmical expressions or songs so that she or he can start to recognize it. , (CNS et al., 1997, cited in Training Module, 2007). Also, Machado (1985) recommends giving names to the toys, foods, and other objects surrounding the child.
12 to 18 months: – caregiver is advised to entice the child to converse on a toy telephone (CNS et al., 1997, cited in Training Module, 2007). Also, caregiver or parent should present rhymes and finger games to the child (Lagoni et al., 1989, cited in Training Module, 2007).
18 to 24 months: during this stage parent or caregiver is encouraged to talk about the previous day’s events, and what will transpire the next day.
There are five concepts of language development which emerge in children’s receptive and communicative language processes. The receptive language skills maturity precedes and lay the foundation for the development of expressive language process. The following paragraphs will explore these concepts of language development in children (Otto, 2010).
To begin with, the phonetic development in toddlerhood involves their ability to express their viewpoints, and constructions of phonemes. Phonemes refers to “a speech sound that distinguishes one word from another, e.g. the sounds “d” and “t” in the words “bid” and “bit.” A phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit that can carry meaning” [Encarta Dictionary].
This concept of language development begins to express during toddlerhood when she or he begins to articulate a range of terms. At first, the child’s pronunciation is unsteadily characterized with day to day variations, and in some cases shorter intervals. In addition, some variations have been observed between children in regard of the mastering of certain syllable (Otto, 2010).
Secondly, semantic language development in infancy entails initial connection of speech to meaning, conception and receptive semantic ability, direct and vivid events, symbol development signifying speech, and expressive semantic ability. On the other hand, the concept of semantic language development presents between the age 1 and 2. At this stage, the toddler possesses a range of 20 to 170 terms in his or her useful vocabulary.
Semantic development depicts variation from child to child depending on their respective familial experiences and background. While the child’s language will undergo gradual transition with age, the idiomorphs will still be retained in the child’s verbal expressions. In their hyperactive exploration of their environment, toddlers discover the identity of people and objects (Otto, 2010).
Furthermore, semantic understanding of toddles and arising literacy, increasingly progress during the toddler stage of a child’s language development process. Also, the child consciousness of environmental features and meaning, like stop signs, brand on food packets, and McDonalds’s logos increases. This consciousness of written symbols is normally expressed in their behaviors with inscribed materials within their familial environment (Otto, 2010).
Thirdly, the concept of syntactic language development on infants concerns the syntactic understanding and story book experiences. Conventionally, infants who are engaged in story book experiences with parent or caregiver get exposed to more complex syntactic arrangement relative those involved in routine conversational environment.
Noteworthy, as infants approach age 1, their verbal and non-verbal participation increase. On the other side, syntactic learning development in toddlers involves syntactic organization in telegraphic speech, mastering of pronouns, and emergent literacy coupled with syntactic ability (Otto, 2010).
Fourthly, the concept of morphemic language development in infants is influenced by phonemic ability. Development of morphemic understanding is dependent upon the skill to identify sound differences related with inflectional morphemes such as; tense indicators, plurals, and possessiveness.
Thus, receptive understanding of the meaning transforming features of morphemic develops with the experiences of spoken and read language. In addition, the development of morphemes skill gets clearer when toddlers start to exercise language. This stage is significant in development of morphemic understanding in regard that noun verb compatibility in English impact on the use of inflectional morphemes (Otto, 2010).
Language development in children is largely dependent on the characteristic of the environment within which the child grows. Experiences of a child determine the rate at which a child develops language skills. The degree of parent or caregiver interaction with a child plays a very significant role in a child language development. Also, health issues can slow a child language understanding.
Otto, B. W. (2010) Language Development in Early Childhood Education (3rd Edition).Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
Machado, J. M. (2010). Early childhood experiences in language arts: early literacy. Belmont, U.S.; Cengage learning. Training Module. (2007). Language Development of Infants and Toddlers. HighReach learning