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Learning to speak – one of life’s miracles

Learning to speak

Life’s greatest miracles happen in the first there years. That is certainly the impression you can have as parent. Birth – wow! The absolute miracle of this little being full of life. Then in the first weeks and months the eyes and facial expressions come to life, so full of love and trust – they are enthralling and enrapturing. Then after the first year, grasping hold of the physical body, the child stands upright and makes those first steps.

Following those first steps, another momentous stride takes place: learning to speak! At one year your baby will most likely just be experimenting with a few one syllable ‘words’, quite definite about what they mean but you may be scratching your head. How we’ve all listened in spell-bound charm as our toddlers emphatically say something like, ‘mmaah’, ‘daahh’, ‘nnaah’, twice, thrice, perhaps pointing to your nose to make clear to us unintelligent adults what is meant.

The profound significance of the mother tongue

By 2½ years we ‘suddenly’ become aware our child is speaking in sentences, giving expressions to joys, pains, observations – experiences of his inner self can now be communicated. Naturally this is still in simple form, but the foundations are there – for life. We adults have a hard time with new languages – all those vocabulary lists to learn, the verb conjugations, the intonations, etc. And it all comes naturally for the child.

talking-nose

For the under 3 year old this process is extraordinarily special. Up to the 6 – 12 months time, all children are still universal linguists, i.e. capable of learning any world language equally. But following this point, the brain and the palate start forming themselves according to the mother tongue (or tongues, with bilinguals). Not just words but all the unique sounds, accents, gestures, as well as the palate formations required for them. After 2½ – 3 it becomes almost impossible for the older child or adult to completely master all the intricacies of the foreign language, especially if in different language families (e.g. English and Mandarin). The language has helped form and map the neural pathways in the brain – an intricate and essential part of the foundation for thinking and for life.

But there is another wonder of the original language learning in the under three year old, one that researchers are still scratching their heads about. As older child or adult we can be helped by hearing foreign language tapes or films. The big surprise: it doesn’t help one iota with the toddler; in fact it detracts from it. Many other studies have confirmed this.

Importance of the real person  – the real experience

What is happening? The experience of the real person is missing: the mother – as the most significant person for the infant, and others of closer ongoing relation. Language learning in this early period has to be face to face; the social interaction is vital, whether speaking, playing, singing, telling stories, laughing, expressing the wonders and joys of what you are experiencing, together. And this has an influence on the child for life, including how well he or she does at school (do a search for ’30 million word gap’ for some of the research).

“Language learning in this early period has to be face to face; the social interaction is vital…”

We need to engage our young children in real world, real people experience – that is the important thing at this age, also for learning to speak. It is an essential triangle: you – the child – the world around. This is why pushchairs and slings with the young child facing you are better for language learning: research and experience shows the child needs to see you in learning the mother tongue.

The child up to three years has a unique, almost magical potential to take in powerful fundamentals for life, first learning to walk, then in the second year learning to speak. There are further wonders in store for the third year, but that will have to wait for a later blog!
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Nutritiousfood
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Yoga
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transact
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Fashionmagazine
Fashionshow
Femalemodels
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
travel
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
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Loseweight
outdoors
Reduceweight
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Abadgirl
appetite
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Richard Brinton

Richard Brinton trained and worked as a Steiner Waldorf teacher, later as Principal at Hawkwood College, UK. He now lives and writes in Stroud, England with his wife, also a teacher.
Contact: richardbrinton@aol.com

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