The acquisition of speech is one of the most important aspects of development. We have a need to communicate from the moment we are born andwill take place even if a child receives no encouragement; but progress will be better and more rapid given the correct conditions and stimulus.
Language is the key to learning.
Without language a child cannot understand other people and cannot communicate with others. The child’s first form of communication is usually with his mother, and happens when the newborn baby is picked up and spoken to. The child responds by looking into the face of the person holding him, and perhaps moving his head. He will continue to listen to the person’s voice and watch her face, and eventually will begin to respond with smiles and coos and gurgles.
The baby will communicate his needs, or his distress, byat first, but will also show pleasure with babbling and cooing noises. This interaction between parent and baby is very important as a first stage of language development. The baby learns quickly, especially if his parents talk to him a lot, maintain eye contact, vary their voices and use head and arm gestures to indicate their meaning. He will begin to imitate these expressions and sounds, until they are holding quite a conversation between them!
From babbling the baby will begin to produce the easiest of the speech sounds, which are the groups of vowels such as caa’ or coo’ and consonants such as `rnmm’, `cicid’ and `ppp’. It is a natural stage of progression to make these into the familiar ‘cla-da-da’ and `rna-ma-ma’.
4 Keys to Speech Development: Rate of progress
The rate at which the child progresses will depend upon:
- his own ability.
- the encouragement given by his parents.
- whether or not he has brothers and sisters.
- his contact with external stimulus.
This is the average rate of progress ofin young children:
- Up to 7 weeks The child , makes cooing noises, responds to noises and voices.
- 2-4 months The child starts to produce the simpler vowel sounds and some consonants.
- 4-6 months The child produces two-syllable words such as mama, dada.
- 6-9 months Babbling continues, but with more meaning. The child will be joining up more and more syllables (jargoning).
- 9-12 months The child will be able to say two or three words and understand some simple commands. He will say the words that indicate things that are important to him, such as `mama’, ‘pussy’, ‘cup’.
- 18 months The child chatters a lot, can say six to twenty identifiable
- 18 months- words, and has good comprehension.
- 2 years The child will be forming two-word phrases and short
- 3 years sentences such as ‘me want apple’. The child chatters incessantly, has a vocabulary of at least two hundred words and understands many more. He is constantly asking questions.
- By the time a child is five, he will have mastered the basics of language. He will be able to put his thoughts and ideas into words and should be able to understand at least two thousand words.
Conditions for progress of speech development
Children are not taught how to speak their own language; they are surrounded by people speaking it – in the home, in the street, on television, on the radio. The child realises that putting different sounds together expresses a meaning. His curiosity is aroused, and with increasing physical development, he sees a need to communicate. He imitates those around him, and each success gives him the confidence to try out more.
4 More keys to Speech Development
The adults around the child should:
- provide a source of natural, easily understood conversation.
- provide opportunities for him to experiment with language. Ilk 00-
- listen to the child and try to understand his attempts at speech.
- respond to the child, praise his attempts and make him feel clever.
Final 4 Keys to Child Speech Development
A child who is praised and encouraged will learn more quickly than a child who is constantly corrected, ignored or laughed at. Parents can help their child in his early attempts at speech by:
- speaking to him clearly and slowly, in a way that the child can understand and that suits his vocabulary.
- listening to the child, answering his questions, and giving him encouragement.
- being patient and not saying things for him or allowing his older brothers and sisters to speak for him.
- not showing obvious concern if the child appears to be slow at learning how to speak. Children develop in their own time.