Language Acquisition Children Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Children and Language

Language Acquisition in Children

Language development in children takes a certain, predictable pattern. This pattern, also called "production," has certain important characteristics, seen in many children. First, one will note, that a baby aged 0-2 months will employ vegetative sounds, such as burps, cries and coughs. In this first stage, these sounds will be involuntary, but they nonetheless signify communication. The first real communication is anywhere from 2-3 months, and is exemplified by a baby's cooing sounds. Then, from 4-6 months, a baby will start uttering consonants, such as "g" and "k," but not real syllables. However, in this third stage, a baby will experiment with volume and pitch. Then, from 7-9 months, a baby will start canonical babbling and will start uttering syllables. Lastly, from 8-12 months, a baby will reduplicate its babbling (i.e. gagaga).[footnoteRef:1] [1: All the facts above are taken from the source provided by the customer, various pages.]

The reason that the process above must be rendered in detail here is because it helps with answering the first question related to language development in children. This question refers to whether children always get concepts first and then map language onto them or whether language can help the child form some concepts. The pattern above helps an individual see that the process of forming language for a child is similar, yet that each stage can be very different for each child in a hypothetical study. The answer to the above question, thus, can also vary from child to child. For instance, as a general psychological point-of-view, it is agreed that much of the time, concepts precede language. This is explained by the fact that a child does not necessarily need language to entertain the idea of something. For instance, Jean Piaget, a famous psychologist, gives the example of a child who opens and shuts its mouth while opening and shutting a matchbox. This simple example represents the child's understanding of the process, yet there is no language involved. Thus, one could state that language is a mere "symptom of development." Another example proving that a child gets concepts first and then adds language is seen in blind or deaf children. These children's conceptual development, though delayed by some years, will eventually equal that of normal children, showing that the language handicap in this case in no way affects the overall development of the individual.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Cook, V. (1972). "Which came first, the language or the concept?" Multiracial School. Retrieved December 12, <>.]

To provide a contrast with the point that Piaget makes above, and to reinforce the above statement that concept and language development, as well as their relationship, can vary from child to child, it is also important to undertake an examination from the point-of-view of a linguist. In this case, Noam Chomsky states that "the dependence of language acquisition on more general learning processes is not proven" and that "...many aspects of language development appear to have no parallels in other areas of development."[footnoteRef:3] Thus, from Chomsky's point-of-view, not only can language both precede and follow concept learning, but there is no proof that language can enhance concept learning or vice versa. For this reason, it is possible that in some cases, concept learning precedes language, and in other cases, language enhances concept learning. However, as seen from the two diverging opinions above, there is no agreement on this issue, and many teachers are encouraged to teach both concepts and language concomitantly. [3: Cook (1972), p.1. ]

Question 2

A second question that encourages further elaboration upon the complex process of language development in children poses the following query: what are the possible forms that a language impairment in childhood could take and why is this a matter of linguistic importance? With regards to this particular question, it is also important to study the social implications, for a language impairment will undoubtedly affect a child. To answer the first part of the question, there are many varieties of language impairment. For instance, specific language impairment is estimated to affect 10% of the population at age five. This impairment is characterized by specific difficulties related to language and not by causes stemming from autism, deafness, retardation, or peripheral motor problems of speech, and is characterized by a genetic component as well.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Source given by the customer, p. 41. ]

Language impairments in children can take various other forms, however, and will generally refer to problems experienced when children aim to have a message understood, as well as when children will have trouble understanding others' messages. Thus, there are many possible forms of language impairments and they are important to understand because they can affect a child's linguistic development, as well as can have social ramifications for that child. The fact that statistics state that one out of every twenty children has symptoms of a language disorder is also alarming.[footnoteRef:5] The cause of these disorders is, unfortunately, often unknown. When the cause is unknown, the disorder is called a developmental language disorder. Some known causes, however, relate to brain injuries and the central nervous system, and can occur in children with existing developmental problems, such as autistic children. [5: Hoch, D. (2011). "Language disorder - children." Medline Plus. Retrieved December 12, <>. ]

The symptoms of a language impairment will usually manifest in the following ways:

-- a child may have a hard time understanding what a person says,

-he or she may have trouble following directions that are spoken, and may have problems organizing his or her thoughts,

-- a child may utilize only short sentences, and will have difficulty stringing sentences together to form coherent thoughts,

-he or she will have difficulty finding the right words and will utilizing "um" thereby leading the child to have a smaller vocabulary than other children of the same age, and -the child may also leave words out while talking and repeat words or phrases multiple times.[footnoteRef:6] [6: Hoch (2011), p.1. ]

Because of the generalized nature of the symptoms, when a child is thought to be experiencing a language impairment, parents are encouraged to take the child to be examined and tested, for it is only in this way that the disorder can be truly pinpointed. Furthermore, proper treatment is important due to the fact that language problems, if left untreated, will affect an individual's ability to interact socially and function properly as an adult.

Question 3

The last part of this essay will relate to answering the question of what a child can do with language, or how he or she will utilize language. First, it is important to state that the simple answer to the use of language by a child is so that he or she can survive. Each individual has an innate mechanism for survival built in, and developed through millennia of evolution, and this includes utilizing communication in order to survive, and develop fully as a future functioning adult. However, humans can do many things with language and though a child will, at first, utilize language to simply survive, innately, he or she will eventually employ language in order to attain more superior wants and needs, such as are seen on the Maslow pyramid (i.e. self-fulfillment).

In order to examine the use of language it is important to discuss the Theory of Mind. This multi-step process refers to language development in various stages. At the early stages, this involves developing concepts of mind to assist language acquisition, and this happens between the ages of 1 to 3.5 years. Then, between 3.5 to 5 years of age, the second stage begins, which involves the acquisition of certain linguistic structures. Later, from the age of 4 onwards, the child will understand the listener's "state of knowledge," and this will…

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