Keywords: language development theories, language development barriers, language development parent
Acquisitions of language and literacy skills are important to be internalized as early as possible in the development of the child's early education. The child starts acquiring such language and skills as as soon as s/he is born and not as s/he starts school; which skills evolve and be more complex as the kid matures. Hence the first major steps in language are taken at home and then built on and reinforced at school as the child mixes with other children, each from different backgrounds and under the teacher's guidance. The institution and educators must strive hard in getting a glimpse of each individual child's background because only in knowing what baggage the child has taken with him to school, the educator can see the world from the child's perspective. That is very much in line with Piaget's theory of learning since he stresses after the fact that learning depends on a number of factors such as the child's prior knowledge, age, maturity, social and family influences, contextual setting as well as ways of learning. The educator must therefore speak to such understanding of every single child in class to be able to support and help children in organizing their prior knowledge, which really is a product of family and background influence. The need for the adult's or educator's role in the introduction of the child's language and literacy has been recognized since it's the educator who helps the kid become aware of certain aspects of the language and by doing this helping and supporting the introduction of language and literacy. The adult ought to be the role model for the child to imitate and emulate since children learn a lot from imitation and therefore help the kid reinforcing language and literacy acquisition. According to Piaget this occurs through assimilation and accommodation of new knowledge which in turns causes equilibrium. Other theorists, like the Nativists such as Chomsky and Constructivists such as Skinner between others, attempted to explain the way the child develops language and literacy skills. Vygotsky and later Bruner, who refined his work, attempted to explain how language developes; language as something of social interactions and environment. Various different theories left a significant effect on our educational system.
Home background marks the difference among children since not everyone is raised the same and subjected to the same environment. Wilkinson, (1980) argues that, "as the adult will offer a certain resistance to his environment, the child accepts it, drinks it in. Thus the whole environment of the child should be considered a positive, harmonious one. " (as citied in Bruce, 1997, p. 18). Implying that children are easily damaged from everything that occurs around them, especially in their house environment, but sadly don't assume all child experiences a positive one. Early theories of development, including Jerome Bruner, argues that children learn a lot from imitation and in recognizing the others' different experiences. Same with language since children are constantly imitating others and by doing this imitating language heard and learning that different intonations and words create different meaning in several situations. Developmentalists, like Catherine Snow (1997) argues that: even 'the quality of living and social level donate to the language skills the kids face. ' (as citied in Bee & Boyd, 2010 p. 217).
The mother or primary care giver is crucial in the introduction of the kid and by implication this person leaves a considerable impact and influence on the child's exposure to literacy and also in language development. 'Parents are children's first & most powerful teachers and most important role models. ' (as citied in Carlyon, Carlyon & McCarthy, 1998). Particular importance is directed at the way the mother interacts with the child since language skills are transferred to the child. This infant directed speech is named motherese; where the simplicity and repetitiveness of the adult's speech helps the kid in language acquisition as well as in selecting the repeated grammatical forms found in speech. Research suggests that motherese plays a crucial role in language development; however these interactions commence to interest the kid mostly when s/he starts using language to communicate for him/herself. The kid then would try to repeat and use words heard and forms in his own speech to communicate while the adult guides and supports the child by recasting sentences and modeling the correct grammatical forms.
In a literate society just as understanding how to speak it is equally important to be exposed to and find literacy skills. However, such skills need a lot more effort for the child to tap into his/her cognitive and motor skills. Denny Taylor (1983) argues that "literacy is part of the very fabric of the family life" (as citied in Bruce, 1997 p. 130). The home is the key and first source of literacy since it is where in fact the child is introduced to functional literacy. The child sees the family members participating in literacy activities and the majority of the time the child become involved actively in these experience and thus grasping the functions of such literacy actions and skills. The kid learns that literacy is everywhere and this it conveys meaning by noticing some writing from scraps of paper inside your home, phone messages, texts in storybooks and far other situations where in fact the child is exposed to symbols in a context. More often than not parents unconsciously expose their children to text in their everyday situations and involving them in the literate society e. g. in doing shopping lists or choosing packets of cereal to buy. Parents are usually not aware that they are helping in the acquisition of literacy skills. Exposing children as from a very early age to printed text is really important e. g. being read-to, especially bedtime stories. Bedtime stories give the chance for one to one experience where in fact the child is read-to and thus start making sense of text. Exposing the kid to phonics would also help in reading and also in writing. Later on, the child starts learning about the multiciplicity of literate activities particularly when the kid start mixing with other children and participating in different social events e. g. Birthday parties.
Children should also come in contact with writing and taught some basics in order that they will see it useful later on at school.
The parents should prepare the child for formal instruction e. g. in tracing letters and also in grasping the concept of words and spelling and helping the kid become accustomed to the written language.
Providing the children with a rich language environment requires the school to work together and collaborate with the family and all the various backgrounds the children come from because this impacts a lot the performances and approaches children have at school. Each individual child's background must be known as well as appreciated and the differentiation accounted for, since each young one has his own individual abilities and needs, in providing same opportunities to all individuals for fostering language and literacy. Where possible, parents should be actively mixed up in children's education since, "When parents are participating, children do better in school and go to raised schools. " (Henderson, 1987), (as citied in Carlyon, Carlyon & McCarthy, 1998).
In an early on classroom the educator must provide a balanced literacy environment where in fact the four vital regions of language are addressed; speaking listening, writing and reading. It is healthy to expose the kids to a variety of strategies and resources to stimulate these four areas simultaneously and providing meaningful activities in a context where children should explore and get results; thus exploring the world for themselves. Children have to be provided with opportunities for first hand activities which involve the use of senses as well as satisfactory challenge in order that they are actively engaged in activities as well as satisfying their curiosity to further their knowledge. Most importantly the children must be given opportunity to start to see the teacher engaged in the reading and writing situations because by doing this they can see the adult as their role model. In class the children must be familiar with read and write alouds that assist them get a sense of audience. Independent reading and shared reading help the kids as well in acquiring those skills needed down the road in their life as well as in interactive reading and writing. In school a continuant promotion for reading and writing must happen; in fact in 1983 Health proposed a list of social oriented purposes for engaging children in reading and writing; which list is still applicable today.
There exist a lot of methods and strategies to be employed in class which help the kids to come in contact with a rich language environment. One of which is through language games given that they tap in their cognitive development while having fun. Looking in different books and dictionaries as well as role plays are also very helpful since it helps the children get into the context, explore and rehears language.
Children should come in contact with a number of text to help them expand and slowly but surely build their vocabulary to a rich language development. Moreover, contact with printed material helps a lot the children in developing a positive attitude to language and literacy. It also helps the kids to learn different attitudes and concepts which provide personal and language gains. Children must come in contact with the writing simultaneously with other language skills although writing is in fact a longer plus more deliberate process. Writing helps the kid clarify and confide thinking by hypothesizing and recording feelings while also creates amusement through one's own writing. In class the teacher must offer all the support and help needed in assisting the kid throughout in his writing, specially when the child attempts to write something new by himself. Realistic opportunities and adequate environment for stimulating writing must be provided which furthers the child's confidence in tinkering with language. Children learn writing through learning from your errors and by experimentation but approach and purpose for writing depends upon the child's age. In class children must be involved in writing which meets everyday activities e. g. on paper the shopping list since for a few children this may be a totally new experience thus opportunities for role playing such encounters must be accounted for e. g. writing to the classroom's postoffice or going to the bank among others help a lot the kids to employ language in a functional meaningful way. According to Jo. Weinburger, "writing does not simply happen. . . . since development occurs in just a cultural and social context, children from differing backgrounds will necessary have different experience of writing. " (as cited from Bruce, 1997 p. 128). In class the teacher must appeal to these differences as well as providing them with opportunities for individual activities. Acknowledgement of the emergent literacy, which the children builds on prior to starting formal education, must take place while engaging them in shared activities where children are encouraged to speak and share their own experience with regards to the written text. There are different methods for encouraging writing, mainly through; letter shapes, phonics, letter blending or word building amongst others.
In days gone by school was about reading and writing and incredibly little on listening and speaking; possible that i faced myself during my school days. Nowadays we've seen a gradual change in our educational system where the importance of listening and speaking in language development have been recognized, acted upon and catered for inside our schools. July Fisher (1996) emphasized that, "one of the most crucial elements for young learners is the provision of opportunities for children to talk together and with adults" (as citied in Bee & Boyd, 2010 p. 218). This highlights the importance of interaction and in practicing the spoken language to communicate and share ideas while listening to one another. In 1977, Tough developed a set of functions and purposes for which children should be engaged in oral language.
The adult role also places a significant role because it guides and supports communication throughout. The importance of being read-to at home can and should be extended in the classroom as well since this is really important and cannot afford to be missed from the child's education thus children must be read-to on a regular basis even in school. Read-to in class provides the children with the attention which they may not be provided at home. It also provides the chance for children to hear language used in various contexts. Through different strategies, e. g. phonics, letter words and look and say method amongst others, the child's learning is facilitated. Development of phonological awareness as soon as possible would help in learning to read; the faster this is learned, the faster the kid learns to read fluently. The Importance of reading has been recognized; in fact the International Reading Association (IRA) suggests that children have lots of literacy rights which aims for excellent reading instruction.
What are the short-term and long-term implications of your language rich-environment from a child's perspective?
The child in his early education must be exposed to a number of fruitful opportunities to be able to introduce him/her to the language and also to acquire literacy skills. Throughout this journey of language development the kid builds goals for himself; some of which can be for the immediate future and others for more long-term future attainment. Continuous support and praise help the kid a lot in building goals given that they boost his/her self esteem and confidence necessary for working on the attainment of such goals. The adult presents himself as the role model for the kid whom to imitate and emulate by presenting himself as a writer, reader, listener and also a speaker. The child builds short term goals for things which he hasn't been able to do by himself but he is sure and most probably can in the near future. He'd also build future long-term goals for things he wishes to attain in his future. Scaffolding helps the child building his confidence in attaining such goals.
Motherese helps a lot in the spoken language because through communication with the adult and in recasting the child's sentences the child is able to initiate words and formulate sentences. Skinner (1957) argues that the kid shapes his process of speech through imitation and systematic reinforcement. The child is constantly imitating and pretending to be someone else and in so doing appreciating and exploring others' activities and speech in different contexts. Helping the kid participate and try conversations and discussions makes the kid use his spoken language skills for communication. Being read-to and in letting the child choose his own books provides child a feeling of security which is needed for him/her in setting short term goals in wanting to interact the reading through prediction and repetitive patterns. Exposing children to different stories help the children become accustomed to pictures and text and in matching the term with texts. It also helps the child expand his vocabulary and encourages the kid to learn more words. The child builds long-term goals for himself for learning to continue reading his own just like the adult does. Shared reading helps the child a lot because children help and find out a lot from one another. Letting the child discover his/her own writing and in assisting to explore different varieties of writing encourages the child in taking part in the writing process. Keeping an archive of the children's work and displaying them in the classroom help children to be pleased with their work. Children must be encouraged to be their own authors and in sharing their work which helps in building self-confidence.
There are other goals which the child sets in an indirect way, e. g. through sharing experiences and in shared reading the child learns the worthiness of trust and respect. The kid also learns the worthiness of tolerance and accepting cultural variations through different stories. The kid learns that everyone is different and must be appreciated for these differences. The short-term implications affect the child in the immediate form that s/he is confronted with every day in class. While the permanent ones affect the child throughout his life because from the life-lesson which the child will remember all his life and help him in his future.