Growing up Language is an iconic obstacle a child must conquer. A language is a tool that enables people to communicate & it is an essence of what it means to be human(Panopto Lecture). And when we address Spoken Language, it is cleaved into five different categories which are Phonology, Morphology, Semantics, Syntax, and Pragmatics(Textbook 9.1 The Road to Speech). Frankly speaking, I don’t think that many of our Parents or Teachers were even aware of these five aspects of Spoken Language while we were growing up, still, they did a great job making us learn how to speak. I bet some of us are capable of speaking a couple of languages fluently and even know how to write and read those languages as well. Now, Kids have to learn the rule systems of the language which can be very daunting.
But, sometimes children tend to make errors and misuse words that don’t fit in while attempting to speak. But parents or caregivers need to teach them the correct way to say it encouragingly, rather than giving their kids hard time & embarrass them publicly. This Corrective Feedback serves as a small gesture of motivation that can increase enthusiasm in kids to learn new vocabulary(Panopto Lecture). I remember I always screwed up the spelling of “Little”, In my notebook, I always wrote “Littre” instead. I am from a background where English isn’t the first language, so I never received any help from my parents because they didn’t know the language fluently. On the other hand, when I took the spelling test, the word “Little” showed up and as usual, I wrote the wrong spelling again. This time teacher corrected my spelling with red ink and made me understand that the word “Littre” has no meaning. Further, she told me “always remember the word ”Little” always contains double L, if you don’t have that in your word it will be wrong and the word will be meaningless.” This “little” trick helped me a lot.
Also, there is no surprise, if parents communicate with kids more often, the kids will understand vocabulary quicker. Parents may facilitate the learning of words by the name of things. Parents should mark the items which the child sees on a stroll – birds, trees, cars, etc. Parents can also help children learn Vocabulary by reading bedtime stories with them. Reading together is a fun activity for kids, and it provides opportunities for children to learn new words. However, the way that parents read makes a difference. When parents carefully describe pictures as they read, preschoolers’ vocabularies increase. Asking children questions also help When an adult reads a sentence (e.g., “The Sparrow is chirping”), then asks a question (e.g., “What is Sparrow doing?”), a child must match the new word (chirping) with the pictured activity and say the word aloud. When parents read without questioning, children can ignore words they don’t understand. Questioning forces children to identify the meanings of new words and practice saying them(Textbook 9.2 Encouraging Word Learning).
Parents remain an important influence on the children to improve vocabulary for school-aged children. Children learn words when parents use vocabulary rich speech, it is a form of instructional and helpful experiences. Reading is an ideal means of learning new words. Published materials, such as novels, magazines, journals, and textbooks are nearly often foreign to vocabulary rather than conversational languages. Children who read often have more vocabulary than children who read less often. Video watching will, under certain conditions, aid word learning for pre-school children. For instance, pre-school kids who watch Sesame Street daily appear to have greater vocabulary than pre-school children who only rarely watch Sesame Street. Other programs that promote word learning are those which tell a story, such as Thomas the Tank Engine. Also shows like Blue’s Clues, and Dora the Explorer, which specifically ask audience questions. The advantages of such programs are amplified when pre-school children watch it with their parents. In comparison to these cartoons, most of the other cartoons do not serve any purpose when it comes to language learning(Textbook 9.2 Encouraging Word Learning). Also, I think, Genie Wiley (the Feral Child ) is a great example here, she was confined in her house for 13 years. And as discussed in the Video Lecture, the initial 3-5 years are pivotal for Language development. In Genie’s case she never got the social exposure to learn any language, she was isolated and all she had ever listened was her dad’s horrifying screams. What I think is a child needs certain mediums like social exposure, television, school, parents & friends to learn the language. And Genie was deprived of all such mediums and above all, she had no motivation in her life as a child to learn a language (Panopto Lecture).
When we talk about Language and Biology, there are a lot of influences, amongst those is Biological Influence and one of the explanations that we have is that we are seeing children all over the globe. Kids tend to meet language thresholds at the same time no matter where they belong. So, despite enormous variance in the language input, adults are not referring to kids under the age of one year in some communities. Therefore, the fact that children must be introduced to language is something we know and are talking about. However, we see this inevitable unfolding in terms of language acquisition as long as the exposure is present(Panopto Lecture). Besides that, Biological influence can alter a child’s language and communication, these facets are recurrent in many forms of impairment whether it be Hearing or Visual Impairment. These disabilities can hinder or I would say delay the process of Language development in a child. But, sooner or later an impaired child will pick up the velocity to be equivalent to the rest of the mainstream kids. The next aspect is the Sociocultural & Environmental Influence.
If we through a glance at the case study of The wild boy of Aveyron “Victor” a French feral boy who lived and was probably raised by wolves in the mountains of the Aveyron area in the late 1790s. The local farmers allegedly sighted Victor early on in 1794, and in 1797 he was captured and taken into a town by local hunters. For several months a young widow took care of him, but he fled and returned to the jungle. In 1800 he emerged from the woods willingly. The boy was about twelve years old at the time and could speak no words. The doctors who treated him first thought he could be sour and quiet. After testing him in Paris at the Deaf National Institute, it became apparent that he is fully safe but never contacted a language. It was easy to be nude and to roam in freezing weather, which prompted the scientists to believe that he was well accustomed to harsh circumstances in the wild. Whilst Victor displayed some signs of improvement he was uninterested, violent, and hyperactive. This ultimately brought scientists to the belief that he would never be able to conform to any social norm. The story of Victor reminds me of one famous feral kid everyone is familiar with. Yes, it is none other than Mowgli from the Jungle Book. Even though Mowgli is a fictional character but if he existed in the real world he must also have been in the same struggle learning the actual human language.
- Kail, R. V. (2015). Children and their development. (7th Edition).
- Panopto Lecture Ch-9 Language and Communication.
- TEDxTalks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald at TEDxAtlanta(2014, June 04). Improving early child development with words [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8qc8Aa3weE
- ChildHealth-Explanation.com, (2015). Factors Affecting Language Development in Children. [online] Available at: http://www.childhealth-explanation.com/language-development-pg3.html
- ApolloEight Genesis (2013, January 18). Genie Wiley – TLC Documentary [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjZolHCrC8E
- thevintagenews.com, (2017). Victor of Aveyron: A a feral child who supposedly lived in the French wilderness until he was 12 [online] Available at https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/06/21/victor-of-aveyron-a-feral-child-who-supposedly-lived-in-the-french-wilderness-until-he-was-12/