The importance of language development
The importance of language development in Pre School – at home and at school
Language development is about more than talking. It includes all the different ways a child understands and communicates, only part of which are spoken words.
To understand and use a language effectively, children must master four basic components of the language. First, they must master phonology: They must know how words sound and be able to produce the sequence of sounds that make up any given word. Second, they must master semantics, the meanings of a large number of words. Third, they must have a good command of syntax, rules for how words can be combined to form understandable phrases and sentences. Finally, children must master the pragmatics of language, the use of social conventions and speaking strategies that enable effective communication with others.
Why is language development important in early childhood?
Language development is an important part of child development. It supports the child’s ability to communicate. It also supports the child’s ability to express and understand feelings. It also supports the child’s thinking ability and helps them develop and maintain relationships. Language development lays the foundation for the reading and writing skills in children as they enter and progress through school. Language is needed for all aspects of their education in the classroom as they connect with peers and teachers, and throughout their lives as they grow into adulthood. Developing language skills is of absolute significance for every child’s progress in later life span both as social beings and in pursuing an education.
Language skills underpin many other areas of children’s development by:
- providing a strong foundation for other areas of learning, such as reading and writing and enabling access to the whole curriculum
- supporting communication skills
- promoting social skills and forming friendships
- building confidence and self-esteem
- supporting emotional and behavioural development
- helping children to make sense of the world around them.
The Link between Language Development and Literacy
Language development is very closely linked to literacy of a child. Early literacy is closely connected to language development in children during the preschool years.
Long before a child learns how to read words and recognize symbols, they develop the skills required to understand how language works. Children form the foundation for language and literacy development by discovering that speech has patterns and symbols have meaning. As a result, successful language development is a vital part of later achievement in reading.
Strategies to Support Language Development and include:
It is never too early to begin encouraging language development. Parents and Educators should offer children speaking and listening opportunities through everyday conversation and practical activities.
Children often learn best by observing and copying adult behaviour, so it is essential to model good speech and language skills whenever possible.
Good practice includes:
- getting a child’s attention and making eye contact (get down to the child’s level if necessary)
- speaking clearly and calmly
- using age-appropriate, simple language
- repeating or modelling what the child has said
- repeating sentences back to children, extending what they have said
- describing and commenting on what is happening and what children are doing
- listening carefully when children are talking and being patient so they have plenty of time to respond and find their words
- using all the senses
- using gesture, tone of voice and facial expressions
- using effective questioning but being careful not to over question children or use closed questions.
- building varied vocabulary
- increasing phonological awareness
- encouraging story comprehension skills
- being a good language role model
- reading and talking with children about stories, characters and illustrations
- talk together
- sing with your child
- play describing, guessing, and turn-taking games
- role-play games
- using puppets
- encourage pretend play
- explore rhymes
- create a language rich environment.
- develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves
- speak and listen in a range of situations
- show and tell when children can use toys or other objects and talk about them
- circle time which offers children a good opportunity to practise their speaking and listening skills
- word games. Expand your children’s vocabulary with word games.
- jokes. Telling age-appropriate jokes will also help foster good humour and creativity in children.