Child’s Language 101

18 Oct

Today is such a rainy, windy day, but we were fortunate to spend the morning at my in-law’s house. They have amazing toys and so much to keep the boys busy. They seriously could play for hours there, which is nice and it also wears them out! So, we did not do any crafts or planned activities today.

My one year old is learning how to speak and it is so fun to watch him learn and say new words. His current favorites are uh-oh, dog, & hot. I got to thinking how awesome it is that a child learns a language so well! While I was cleaning my basement a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon some college notebooks. I almost threw them away, but I’m so glad I started reading some of them again. One of them was a class I took on Language Development. For me, this was fascinating to reread, especially since I have little children now! I hope this post doesn’t bore you, but I just wanted to share with you a few things I (re)learned! Oh and I’ll add in some pics of my cuties to entertain you!

So we’ll start with the question of what is language? It’s a system by which sounds and expressions are related to create meaning. It’s also a social shared code or system for representing concepts through symbols and rules for putting symbols together. Here’s a timeline of language development.

1. Prelinguistic Development– smiling, hand movements, turn taking

2. One-word stage– toddlers will say a noun, action word, or adjectives (ex: go, stop, hungry)

3. Early Combinatory Speech (pt. 1)– kids start making short sentences and start making meaning in sentences. They may use main words, but cut out article words (ex: I eat. Me go.)

4. Early Combinatory Speech (pt. 2)– They start making longer combinations of words in sentences. (I like dog.)

5. Later Combinatory Speech– kids are combining sentences and learning to form questions (yes/no questions or informational questions)

So how does a child learn how to speak or know the meaning of words? The child is continuously engaged in a process of creative construction of language. Through social activities and diverse experiences, they build their language. Did you know that the child has learned an average of 21 new words per day from birth?! Hard to understand that, but I got that info. from this book called Children’s Language and Learning by Lindfors.

Do you have a child to ask “why” questions?? My oldest sure does! He just started and it is annoying. Half the time I don’t answer, but sometimes I know he’s just curious. According to Lindfors, it’s just a developmental phase and they are just finding meaning to words and experiences. I would add that they also sometimes want to annoy their parents…but that’s my opinion. 🙂

So here’s an interesting graph. Do you wonder if your child is on track for speech? For example, my son can’t say “l” very well. He’ll say “Weswey” instead of “Wesley”. Cute, but still wonder if that’s normal? So I found this information on typical ages for beginning of speech in my notes and made it into a graph. Hope it ‘s not too confusing and it helps you out! Don’t freak out if your child doesn’t say these sounds at the correct age, this is just a guideline.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you too much! I find this fascinating and what’s even more amazing is our God who created us and all our different languages. What an awesome thing to think about!

Photos taken by Loren Paul

Most of this information was taken from the book Children’s Language and Learning by Judith Lindfors.


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