A cry is the first sound that is produced by a baby at the moment of birth, and ofcourse sound that is produced by a baby after that is not considered as a language or speech, however these sounds are beneficial for the baby especially as a way of practicing to use his oral organism.
Between twelve to eighteen months of the child’s life he starts using the language as means of communication. The language can develop quickly until the age of four where the child would be able to use thousands of words in a day. In this age the child would be able to form sentences with different length and complexity. Then when the child enters school he would be able to express his needs through using a clear language.
Stages of language development in children:
The language of children can develop so fast during the first years of the children’s lives where most of the children are able to master a lot of linguistic skills as they reach the age of five and six. Language development mainly depends on the comprehension and expression skills. However, comprehension precedes expression. According to these two abilities the speed of language development in children will differ from one child to another. As some children reach the age of three while they still can only produce a limited number of words. On the other hand, some children at the age of two or younger are able to talk using clear sentences. We can explain this contrast according to the factors that affects language development particularly the environmental factors and the factors that are related to the child such as intelligence and safety of speech devices, etc.
We can say that language development takes place in two chronological stages:
pre-linguistic and linguistic stage.
During the first year of life the child can produce sounds in many ways .
During the first two months crying is the only way of communication for the baby to express his needs for example when he is hungry or sick.
After that , at three to five months , cooing is a stage where the baby can produce prespeech sounds like ( da , ma , wa ) and in six to twelve months these prespeech sounds would be more complex like ( dada , mama , waah ) that’s why it is noticed in deaf that they produce the same sounds which scientist call babbling.
Cooing and babbling are spontaneously world skills that are not related to any type of culture or language but people usually understand them in different ways then try to enhance them and show gladness towards them, then, at the end of the first year and in the beginning of the second year they would be transformed into words which carry meanings .
This stage starts in the age of two where the child would change cooing and babbling with words which carry clear meanings, this stage includes the following learning linguistic skills:
The number of words that the child can produce is estimated as they would be about fifty words at the end of the eighteenth month, two hundred fifty at the end of the second year and four hundred fifty words at the end of the third year.
Holophrase or One-Word Sentence Stage:
When the child reaches this phase between eight to eighteen months he would be able to use one word to denote the number of things or events surrounding him.
By the end of the second year the child starts to develop short and simple structure sentences where he links two or three main words to form a sentence that carry meaning but without taking into account the grammar rules.
In brief, some authors have reached to a pattern on which base the baby’s language can develop into the stage of learning how to read and write:
1- The child learns listening to spoken language to link words with the real world surrounding him.
2- The child learns using speech to communicate with others.
3- The child learns distinction between visual symbols.
4- The child links between printed words and objects.
5- The child starts writing words with the practice of using verbal symbols within texts.
In fact, the above stages do not apply strictly to each child. Thus, the teacher must be aware that his students are in different stages of language development and suffer from different linguistic problems. Here are some of the reasons behind these problems:
Lack in mental abilities which affects language acquisition and the ability to use language when expressing oneself.
Difficulty in hearing which prevents the child from having adequate chance to acquire the language.
Diseases hit the child in his first months of life such as measles and other type of diseases that affects language devices in brain.
Language Development Factors:
Some authors confirmed the relationship between the child’s linguistic development and his pre–school overall growth.
They have identified three kinds of factors that affect language development:
Physical Factor: The child learns before school years many general psychomotor skills and in this phase the motor activities of the child increase and this require from schools to pay special attention to a program which aim to organize these activities and relate them to the linguistic programs. Due to the fact that, the information received by the child will restrict the child’s thoughts and actions.
The teacher must pay attention to develop the muscles that are used in speech , reading and writing such as eyes’ , hands’ and jaws’ muscles.
Mental Factor: In this phase the students are interested in people and things surrounding them directly, and they gradually be interested in people and things outside their environment. These experiences must be real and true , they would also be related to the child’s previous experiences until they become part of the child’s life. By the age of five and six the child can describe things while by the age of seven and after they concentrate on how the incidents occur and the reasons behind them.
Social Factor: By the stage of beginning school, the child abandon playing alone and starts playing with other children. The language here is specific and clear, and the sentences are also clear. In this phase the child would be able to participate in social discussions.
To conclude , without any doubt , the role of teachers in kindergartens are very important in creating ways that help the child to communicate and this is through motor activities and different games . This will satisfy the child’s feelings. Furthermore, the child will love the language and would be enthusiasm to correct his speech following the language produced by his teacher.
As we always say “ prevention is better than cure “ . The intelligent parents and teachers are those who can discover that the child is facing a language developmental problem . Thus , they could help the child by consulting either a professional specialist in language and speech evaluation or a physician .
Ebtisam Mohammed AL-Harazi
Supervised by :
Prof. Alaeddin Hussain
King Faisal University