How to Enhance your Child’s Language Ability

When it comes to language, children learn to communicate with the world by watching their parents talk. They both imitate their parent’s speech while also forming their own personal habits of speech. Therefore, teaching your child language is the easiest thing to teach but also the most worthy of your attention.

Language learning begins as soon as a child is born, and everyone should know the smoothest way to succeed in this process.

The Importance of Language Learning

1) The Most Fundamental Thing to Learn

language

Before learning how to speak, your child becomes acquainted with language by listening to his/her mother and father speak. Listening comes first.

After that, a child will start to remember words before finally trying to learn language by babbling. After this stage, your child will caution a word or two. Finally, they will learn how to read and use language actively.

Prior to becoming literate, it is important that you give your child a proper education in listening and speaking. The linguistic habits that your child forms naturally will influence them for a lifetime.

2) Fostering Positive Habits of Speech

When your child is about a 12 months old baby, he/she will demonstrate a marked reaction to speech. Quick learners will be able to say one or two phrases. As soon as your child learns to speak, they will unleash a flurry of new words and sentences almost at once. In this process, your child will be at once imitating the phrasing, intonation and accent of grownups, while also developing their own habits of speech. If you observe carefully, you will find your child imitating many of the words that Mom and Dad use.

Language learning involves the cultivation of positive habits of speech, as well as the acquisition of listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities.

3) Fostering the Ability to Express Ideas 

Language learning consists of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Listening refers to the ability to understand what others are saying, speaking or talking refers to the ability to use language to express your experiences and ideas. Reading and writing are how we communicate silently and how accustomed we are to using the written word.

In most cases, reading and writing are taught in the lower grades of public schools. However, your child may be able to pick up an understanding of the written word through writing games, looking at picture books, telling stories, etc. during infancy and early childhood. At this age, you should not be drilling your child's reading comprehension. Instead, cultivate their ability to express themselves and communicate with language. Through this process, your child can form positive habits of speech.

Learning Language The Right Way

1) The Words of Everyday Life

A child's main resources for language learning are the words that they hear when their parents speak to him/her or each other. Therefore, you should pay close attention to the words you are using at home.

If you want your child to have a cultivated personality, parents should make an example of themselves. Rather than being polite when talking to your child, you should show respect and courtesy whenever you are having a conversation with elders, neighbors or teachers. These polite interactions not only give your child a chance to learn more, they also show them the proper forms of polite address.

Remember to also keep reading more picture books, children's stories, fables, children's poetry, and so on. This way, your child will naturally become accustomed to proper, elegant speech and have large vocabulary when they get older.

2) Speaking Clearly

Whether you say "give me the crayon" or "please hand the crayon to me", even though your child doesn't fully understand what you are saying, he/she is still capable of responding appropriately. This is a reaction that can be attributed to children's understanding capabilities or, in technical jargon, it is a "motor response".

In other words, children understand certain concepts that are spoken and act accordingly. "Motor response" is capable of driving a child's linguistic development forward to achieve a "linguistic response". Thus, though your child cannot precisely understand speech, you and other grownups can help your child's linguistic development along by speaking to your child in correct, complete sentences and in a friendly tone.

3) Respond to Your Child

You will feel happy and proud as your child attempts to speak their first short and simple words. You should make it clear that you are excited and encourage your child to keep trying.

To improve your child's aptitude for words, you must try to use different words with the same meaning while responding to your child. Always reply patiently when reading children's stories or when your child asks something during a trip outside.

Children's questions can be bothersome, but you should always accept them affirmatively and answer them truthfully. All of this helps your child's observational and linguistic skills to gradually improve.

4) No to Imitating Bad Speech

A child's first encounter with talking is defined by curiosity and excitement. So many mothers turn a blind eye to improper speech on their child's part. However, if you wish for your child to learn proper speech rapidly, then it is imperative that you try your best to correct your child's pronunciation. If Mom speaks properly, her child will most certainly learn from her and begin speaking properly as well.

Sometimes, children will only say half of a sentence or won't understand what is being said. In these cases, avoid interrupting them or showing impatience. Patient listening is more helpful as it gives your child the confidence to courageously express their thoughts. That will naturally be a positive influence on their speaking abilities. As they become more confident, they will be able to learn more ways to express their thoughts and ideas properly.

5) Put an End to Bad Clichés

Bad clichés include cheeky insults, popular phrases or epithets related to gender. Children usually learn these clichés from TV programs, the people around them or at their friend’s houses.

For a child, these words have the power to attract the attention of those around him/her and make one feel like a grownup. Certain verbal clichés will be used by a child as a way of being rebellious.

In the case that your child is trying to attract attention, pay them no mind or pretend you didn't hear what they said. Showing your child that they won't get your attention by speaking that way will encourage the development of normal habits of speech.

6) Early Correction

If you child appears to have a linguistic handicap, the first thing you should do is compare their linguistic development to that of children in the same age group. Though your child's language skills need not be completely in line with others, you should be very concerned if you think your child's development is delayed by around one year. If a handicap is detected before age 2, specialists believe that there is a 100% chance of successful correction. As a mother who shares the most time and space with your child, you should try to keep continuously watch over your child's linguistic development.

Before age 1, all children have trouble expressing themselves clearly, so it is difficult to tell whether a child has a linguistic handicap or not. Another obstacle can be your own ability to know what your child wants before they even speak. This is one factor inhibiting early detection. By age 8, linguistic handicaps will have solidified, making medical treatment all the more difficult for doctors.

There are three main causes of linguistic handicaps: lack of linguistic stimuli, inheritance of a linguistic handicap from parent’s genes, physical ailments (such as cerebral palsy or cleft palate). Handicaps may be successfully corrected depending on what caused them. Among the three causes of handicaps, there is an appropriate course to take in order to correct each of them. Though your child has only just started to learn how to talk, you need to make a habit of checking for problems like these.

Language-Learning Stages

Linguistic Development

By 8 or 9 months, your child should be able to say "Mama" and "Dada", their vocabulary and ability to make sentences expanding at about 1 year. With the linguistic development diagnostic chart below, you'll be able to tell whether your child is on track or experiencing developmental delays.

Test Your Child's Abilities

Based on your child's age, start the test from the corresponding "responding to language" block. If your child demonstrates the behavior listed, mark it with an "O" and with an "X" if not. If you marked a given block with an "O", proceed through later stages until you have to mark one with an "X". For the opposite case, if an "X" appears in a block corresponding to your child's current age, then continue along in that stage until you see an "O". For the "producing language" column, start in the last month row in which you obtained positive results, proceeding in the same faction. If the answer to a question is unclear, observe your child for a few days before continuing.

Table Guide 0-6 Months

Age

Responding to
Language

Producing Language

0-1 Months

- Startled by loud or sudden noises

- Calms down upon hearing mother's familiar voice

- Produces cries of distress, but also squeals with joy

- Makes basic sounds like "Ya”

1-2 Months

- Seems to understand utterances

- Giggles when Mom talks

- Repeatedly babbles with sounds like "Yaya" and "oh-oh"

- Makes unusual sounds when happy

2-3 Months

- Focuses on the face of person talking

- Pays close attention to people's mouths when they talk

- Will respond with sound upon hearing a sustained sound or speech

- Can produce two or more syllables

3-4 Months

- Looks here and there, searches for person talking

- Becomes frightened or distracted upon hearing an angry voice

- Repeatedly makes the same sound while also babbling

- Frequently says "Ma", "Ba", "Pa" and other labials

4-5 Months

- Responds to when name is called

- Stops crying when someone says his/her name

- Will produce vowels like "oh" and "oo"

- Will use sound to express anger or unhappiness

5-6 M​onths

- Distinguishes between gentle and fierce intonations, responds with expressions or other actions

- Will stop what they are doing when they hear "No

- Can produce 4 or more syllables

- Makes playful sounds when people are nearby

Table Guide 6-24 Months

Age

Responding to
Language

Producing Language

6-7 Months

- Looks for the familiar person whose name was just called

- Will tell when someone is praising or scolding based off tone, expression and gestures, and respond accordingly

- Though unclear, will say "Mama", "Ouma" and other simple words

- Will produce two syllable sounds like "Yahou" or "Yada"

7-8 Months

- Knows someone has arrived when they hear the door, creates associations between sounds and objects

- Stops what they are doing when they hear "No"

- Although imprecise, they will babble "sentences"

- Will follow along with familiar voices or humming


​8-9 Months

- Shows interest and concern when shown a picture and you say the name of the picture

- Hand stops moving when they hear commands like "Don't touch"

- Shakes head to mean "I don't like it" or "No"

- Imitates the sound of people talking

9-10 Months

- Focuses on mother's voice in a noisy environment

- Looks for Daddy when they hear "Where's Daddy"

- Will use "Mama" or "Dada" and other toddler words

- Will use multi-syllable sentences though not exactly clear what the meanings are

10-11 Months

- Responds to simple requests like "Give me that"

- Moves body or claps to the rhythm of music

- Plays by his/herself and repeat meaningless phrases over and over

- Knows meanings of single words like "Mama" and "Give", and will use them correctly

11-12 Months

- Pays attention and responds to other’s speech

- Will respond appropriately to "Hello"

- Can respond to a whisper or actions with no clear emphasis

- Will listen to music and respond to words in the lyrics or special sounds

- Can use sound or action to express meaning; for example Bird-flying hand gestures, saying "woof-woof" like a dog

12-18 Months

- Understands own name and family member’s names like "Mama", "Bye-bye", "Woof-woof"

- Can name three familiar objects and can hand them over when requested to

- Responds positively or negatively to simple questions

- Will use 7 or more meaningful words when babbling

- Communicates with easy to discern words and hand gestures

- Raises the end-of-sentence intonation for questions like "Eat?"

18-24 Months

- Can name things like buttons, socks, cups, spoons, chairs, pants, etc. and point to them

- Understands what's happening when you say "Don't climb on the table"

- Will respond to questions like "What's your name" and "What sound does a cat make?"

- Will play by themselves for a long time, talking to oneself

- Can say "Door open", "Want to drink water", and other multi-syllabic sentences

- Says the names of five objects like "Ball, shoes, cup, car, milk, etc."

And those are the language related information parents should know for their child.

Stephanie
 

Editor in Babiology, mother of two, highly passionate about sharing the pregnancy care and post delivery care learning with the readers.

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