Leaps in Learning Language

Michelle Verne

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Student-parents at CSUN,

Babies begin to learn language from the first time their born.  They develop an eagerness to communicate as soon as they leave the womb.  It’s evident that the parents voices are recognized in an instant.  So, it’s only understandable that parents are just as eager to increase the ability of communication with their babies, that will continue well into their teenage years.

Each of my three children, have all had different ways in which they developed their communication skills.  They are all still in development.  The youngest is currently two and has expressed a more established vocabulary at this age then my other two ever did.  At first I thought this maybe because she’s the youngest child, or because she’s a girl and girl’s vocabulary tends to be more expressive than boys at a younger age.  It turns out I’m wrong in regards to both assumptions.

According to Kenn Apel, Ph.D., professor of communication science and disorders at Florida State University, and who is co-author of Beyond Baby Talk:  From Sounds to Sentences – A Parent’s Complete Guide to Language Development, none of these assumptions affect language development.  There are many situations that can come into play.  Apel says, “Sometimes parents act or react differently to children depending on their gender, that can lead to initial, but not lasting differences.”  Apel also states that more attention to first-borns and less attention to children born later can also be an influence on when a child begins to talk.

If you believe that your child might have language delay, the most important thing to do first is to schedule a hearing test for your child and/or to seek advice from a speech pathologist.  However, it’s important to note that 6 percent of children have a speech or language impairment that has nothing to do with hearing loss, cognitive delays or autism.

There are ways to promote the use of language in the household.  Such as:  singing rhymes while using hand motions, this can sometimes encourage a child to become more confident in developing a wider vocabulary.  While you’re going about your everyday business, explain to your baby exactly what you’re doing, it might sound crazy at first, but then you might begin to see your baby begin to mimic you.  I have found that teaching my 2-year-old all of the parts of her body, have made her become more engaged to her surroundings, and has helped her to communicate her feelings without trepidation.