To interact, people use language. It is, thus, a dynamic mechanism that humans use when categorizing, arranging, and describing their thought. Listening, speaking, writing, and eventually reading are the sequences followed by children to learn language.
The concept of language learning in children is explained by four theories: interactionist, nativist, behaviorist, and cognitive development.
The theories of nativist and cognitive development observe that nature is the fundamental pillar of the learning of language. The nativist approach indicates that in various cultures and communities, infants have an inborn process for acquiring syntax information.In other words, humans are naturally ‘wired’ to learn a language (Eliason, 2017). The cognitive development theory, on the other hand, does not mention any inborn mechanisms. “It states that a language develops as soon as the ability to represent symbols in the mind occurs.
The behaviorist and the interactionist approaches imply that the nurture is the most crucial aspect of language development. The difference between the two, however, is that whereas the behaviorist theory suggests learning through various reinforcements, the interactionist one argues that people acquire language by social interaction with the environment. The latter involves the enhanced language acquisition as infants, toddlers, and children communicate in different social contexts (Eliason, 2017). The interactionist theory offers the theoretical perspective of language development. As such, it is easier to concur with it.
As language development occurs in children, several factors come into play that may enhance or derail the process. Delay occurs when children cannot comprehend or convey information according to the expected developmental milestones. It is often secondary to other physical and developmental shortcomings such as cerebral palsy, prematurity, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy, or autism spectrum disorder among others.
The factors that promote a child’s language development include family and early experiences. Family members and early educators enhance children’s language development through telling stories, playing word games, reading books together, asking questions, and encouraging conversations. The language development is also determined by the verbal environment or the words that children hear as they grow (Eliason, 2017). The higher the oral ‘professionalism’ in a family is, the more likely children are to learn new words.
Arguments concerning the relation of language and cognition have been raised. Some people argue that language precedes cognition and is the principal influence on the thought development. Others believe that cognition is an essential determinant of the pace of language advancements. The principal relationship is elicited by the fact that speech gives voice to thoughts. Besides, internalized cognitive processes are silent. Language, therefore, enables the sharing of knowledge and information.
Language affects the way students learn other subjects. For instance, a student with a language disorder may not have the planning, sequencing, and problem-solving understanding required to solve mathematical problems and equations. Additionally, children suffering from auditory processing disorders may forget the lyrics of a song or its rhythm while studying art or music. Lastly, in gym classes, children with language problems may fail to follow the left and right concepts.
Family influences the way a child acquires language. Parents are quite essential in the early stages as they are the first teachers (Eliason, 2017). Moreover, the words children hear from family members determine their vocabulary enhancement. Thus, those from low-income families have the decreased pace of language development because the parents have to work to sustain the family and cannot devote time to communication.
Culture influence in language is evident in how some countries describe a concept using several words while others apply only one word to tell the same. The society also has its contribution to language development. It controls language usage by dictating which words are acceptable and which ones may sound offensive. The number of languages spoken in a specific society can as well influence how a child acquires this knowledge
To promote an integrated model of literacy, one would encourage reading books, having guided conversations, and engaging in the productive and positive talk. These three concepts are the main pillars of language development.
Eliason, S. (2017). Early childhood development. Pearson.