And language training
All animals have ways
of communicating with each other. However,
no other animal can come close to the
complex language system that humans use. The
emergence of language that we experience in
our children is fascinating. They seem to go
from saying just a few short words to
speaking in complete sentences in a very
Research in recent years has proven that
language development begins before birth.
When the fetus is in the womb, the unborn
child can identify the sound patterns of the
mother's speech. Expectant mothers often coo
and speak baby talk toward their tummies, so
perhaps they know this instinctively.
Studies have shown that babies around four
months old can discriminate between the
various sounds that humans produce in any
language. However, this ability diminishes
around 10 months of age and babies only will
recognize sounds spoken in the language that
they are immersed in.
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Children begin to utter single words at
different rates. As a general rule, children
of age three years have a vocabulary of
about 3,000 words. Parents should always
keep in mind that speech development varies
from child to child.
Babbling is the first stage in speech. It
begins as infants make the sounds of
consonants which have the fewest features in
common such as oral-nasal /m/ and /p/,
stop-fricatives such as /f/ and
labial-dental /p/ and /t/.
Children first learn to produce the front
consonants sounds /p/ and /m/ and /b/. When
parents hear their babies babbling these
sounds they are sure the baby is trying to
say "mommy", "daddy" of perhaps "pappa."
This may not be the case for the babbling
three-month-old. One could also theorize
that this is where the names come from. This
theory seems plausible when one considers
how similar the words for moms and dads are
in the languages of the world.
Children learn to produce the back consonant
sounds next, such as /k/ and /g/. The vowel
sounds are acquired next, followed by
consonant clusters and blends. In some
children, all blends sounds may not be
mastered until age seven or eight.
Some researchers believe that the
development of language is an inherent human
trait and that everyone is born with the
necessary abilities to vocalize. Others
explain the acquisition of language in more
behavioral terms. These researchers say that
children learn language through a process of
imitation and reinforcement.
In either case, parents facilitate the
learning of language in children. In all
languages, parents have a sort of
instinctive way of speaking to babies. This
infant-directed speech is called "motherese"
and is more commonly known as "baby talk."
They use a higher pitched voice while
speaking shortened sentences. For example,
the sentence "it's time to go" becomes "go
bye-bye." This type of speech proves to be
more effective in gaining an infant's
attention and helping them to develop
language. They will learn words faster and
easier when motherese is spoken. Quite
naturally, as children grow older, parents
adjust the speech they direct at children to
be age suitable.
Please be aware that
the articles on this site are written by
mothers who are discussing their own
experiences and their own opinions. They do
not, and are not meant to, represent
professional advice and should be read with
that point firmly in mind. Our children’s
welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the
slightest doubt about any aspect of caring
for a child you are urged to seek qualified,
specialist advice from a professional
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