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Children's ability to learn language(s) Print E-mail

Monday, 15 October 2012 00:00

Written by Gen321 Staff

In the quest for mastering language(s), all the child needs is "help" from the environment sensory, intellectual and motor stimuli.

Every child is born with an ear to learn the language that he is most exposed to at birth. Though, by the age of 3, the child already has a repertoire of words, modulations and intonations, there are many things he still has to learn: He has to master the art of speaking; he has to enrich his vocabulary; he has to develop precision in the pronunciation of words and learn to use the right word to convey what he means; he has to know how sentences are structured using words; and he has to master orthographic complications such as writing, reading and punctuation.

Sensory, Intellectual and Motor stimuli.

Sensory stimulus:A child, in the initial stages, is a sensory explorer. His gateways to language are his senses. An active activation to his senses is the best form of sensory stimulus to help language acquisition.

(a) Exposure: It is only from hearing people speak that children get the idea of speaking'. They begin to understand that bigger people make sounds that affect other things. Speaking makes things happen. When this realization dawns on them, it speeds up their language development. Adults can aid the language acquisition process by keeping children around adult conversations and talking to them in an unaffected manner, encouraging them when they indicate signs of wanting to express themselves, providing "talk" time and reducing exposure to TV.

(b) Tune the child to sounds: The adult can help the child understand that language consists of words, words consists of sounds and sounds consists of syllables. By helping the child break down a word to its sound notations and syllables, the adult helps the child tune himself to the components of sounds and therefore the words. This help can be provided in the form of designing phonetic exercises which teach the child about the groups of sounds, how sounds can be made, how the lips, teeth and tongue shape the mouth in different ways to create different types of sounds in a language.

( c) Provoke an association: The biggest help that the adults can provide the child is to provoke an association between his senses and sound. When the child uses his senses such as touch, ears, sight and smell to understand objects, the adults must use the relevant words with the child so the child can form an association in his memory between what he senses and what the related word sounds like. The adult designing various sensorial activities and introducing words and expressions in a timely matter will provoke a strong association and help greatly in the building of language.

Intellectual Stimulus:

When the child realizes the importance and impact of sound, he is ready to embrace the intellectual qualities of sound. One of the key goals in the area of providing intellectual help to the child is ensuring that the right word-association is made. It pays to back-check with the child by producing the word and asking the child to evoke a particular activity. This helps to check if the right word connection has been made.

Motor Stimulus:

Motor activity actually completes the circle of understanding. It represents the action based on the understanding of the language. It can be considered as the ultimate test of language comprehension. Motor activity in language development, takes the form of actions based on the spoken word or graphic expression (writing). While the first one invariably is based on the power of association acquired during the sensory and intellectual stimulus, writing is a conscious and voluntary expression that requires translation of the symbols taken in during the sensory and intellectual phases into concrete motor activity.

Help for taking action based on language, can be provided by repeating the action and the word, thus reinforcing the association and by consciously describing the action so that more nuances are added to the word association thus making for a more enriched language.

Various tactile material so as to help understand the extent of pressure required for writing, investing in helping the child with drawing various designs as designs are the forerunners to writing and helping build muscular memory for the alphabets would be good exercises to encourage motor activity.

Give all these three forms of stimuli and sit back and wait for the language explosion in the child.


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