Language Acquisition in Young Children. As a Parent, What Should I Expect?
Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2017 at 11:18 am Under Category Child Education
As a parent, you experience the miracle of your child’s growth and development every day. It may seem like their sponge-like minds can expand infinitely, as they’re able to enjoy new experiences and showcase new skills more quickly than you can comprehend.
One of the most amazing aspects of your child’s growth process is their language development. Spoken language allows your child to interact with you and the world around them while gaining a broader understanding of their surroundings and their relationships. Many parents of young children are curious as to how they can help their child learn language, and if their child is on the right track when it comes to language development.
As with most developmental tasks, practicing language is critical to normal development. There is no one secret to assisting your child as they learn to communicate through spoken words, but talking lots – and listening even more – can help them learn how to speak in a way that is effective both for your child, and those communicating with them. At our Montreal Daycare, your child will have many opportunities to communicate with both adults and children, stimulating their language development while having fun.
The Typical Stages of Language Acquisition in Young Children
There are specific “typical” stages of language acquisition that parents of young children should look out for as your child learns to communicate through speech. However, it is important to note that there is much variation in the ages at which children reach these predictable stages and milestones.
For each child, their own development is usually dependent on their personal acquisition of specific speech abilities, which may differ from what the correct use of the English language skills portrays. Here’s one example of how the typical language stages are classified, based on a child’s lexicon and the way they assemble their words and sentences:
Typically, between the ages of 6-8 months, children will start to make “babbling” noises, meaning that they begin to change pitch, create squealing and growling noises, starting yelling and playing with their loudness, and make extended bursts of sounds that are broken up rhythmically. Babbling is a developmental stage that hasn’t been uncovered anywhere else in the natural world!
When a child is 9-18 months old, they begin to use single, recognizable words. These words may not be exact vocalizations, but will usually express the emotional state of your child, or the explanation of their surroundings. An example is saying “mama” or “papa” when they hear the door open, or saying “dog” as they point to an animal in a book.
During the two-word stage, children between the ages of 18-24 months will typically start to speak in mini-sentences. This is the stage in which children begin combining words together to better communicate their emotions, needs, and perceptions.
Early Multiword Stage
From 24-30 months, children will begin to use more complex sentences to demonstrate their needs and emotions. These are still usually relatively simple sentences, such as “doggy go bark” or “bus going,” which are more a demonstration of their lexicon rather than grammatical understanding.
Later Multiword Stage: From 30 months and beyond, children will typically begin to communicate in more substantial sentences that make both grammatical and functional sense.
Stimulating Language Acquisition Within Your Child
A huge part of your child’s language acquisition experience is the quality time spent chatting and conversing – whether it’s during play time at their private daycare in Montreal, or on the way home with their parents. There are a variety of ways in which a parent and other loved ones can help to expand a child’s vocabulary and understanding of language, including:
- Get your child to actively converse with you. Ask them their favourite colours, about their friends at their private daycare on the West Island, what they’d like to eat, etc.
- Exaggerate the intonation of your words occasionally, so that your child can pay attention to the movements and sounds coming from your mouth.
- Adjust your own speech to be a little slower and more pronounced so that your child can pick up on what you’re saying.
- Stress the use of high-frequency words in their vocabulary, such as “please,” “thank you,” “stop,” “hi,” etc.
- Be enthusiastic with your speech and language! Children love to listen to adults who speak with excitement, so strategize your own speech to be a little more upbeat.
Interchanging Languages with Your Child
Whether your child is at their daycare on the West Island, or are out and about downtown with you, they’re bound to be bombarded with a mix of French, English, and many other languages everywhere they go. Or, perhaps, one parent speaks English, and the other French.
Just like adults, children can gain the skills necessary to be bilingual. However, when learning to be bilingual, some children may be more well-versed in one language over the other – this is known as having a dominant language. Usually, the dominant language is the one used most often.
Learning languages takes time and practice, just like any other skill. A child can grow up comfortably in a bilingual home, especially if the use of language is balanced fairly. Parents can attempt to balance out the use of language by spending certain times of day speaking one language with their child and switching up that schedule of use regularly. This ensures that the child practices most of their learned vocabulary in both languages.
Children acquire the most language skills through regular conversation with trusted adults, and later, with their peers of a similar age group. To help your child feel comfortable communicating through speaking – whether in one language or two – make sure that you’re listening to what your child has to say, and ask leading questions so that they can explore both their speech and their own curiosities.
Are you looking for a private preschool in Montreal where your child can play, learn, and grow in a safe and inclusive environment? At The Learning Tree, your child can experience the bright future they deserve at a private daycare Montreal parents trust. For more information on our education programs, or to schedule a visit, contact us today.
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