How is Language Learned by Children?
Children naturally and automatically learn language through interaction. The exact process is still poorly understood because we can’t still figure out exactly how our brains work (we might think that we’re not meant to understand how our own minds work).
Language and early childhood development
From what we know so far, language and other essential skills are learned through observation, practice and experience. Children might automatically pick up a few words, sounds, gestures and facial expressions from the adults around them. They will then try to copy how we talk and move. Later on, they might be able to make sense of some of the words and gestures.
Once they learn how to pronounce some words and somehow understand their meaning, they also gain and develop other skills. Language is a foundational skill and it also influences how we think and learn. For example, our range of vocabulary affects our range of thoughts. For children, language can support their thinking and learning. This also allows them to communicate and connect with other children thereby further developing their social skills.
How to support your child’s learning
Because language is essential in further development of our children, it’s important for us parents to support their learning. One way to accomplish this is by regularly communicating with them. In other words, frequent interaction is key to developing language skills.
At age 3 to 12 months, usually they will start to play with a few sounds and gestures. At 12 to 18 months, they might start to understand a few words and instructions. Understanding of short sentences might begin at 18 months to 2 years (and you will also understand what your child is trying to say). At age 3 years and beyond, they will begin to initiate and sustain complex conversations (and also better express themselves).
Throughout those years and developmental stages, our role as parents is to regularly interact with our children and continuously respond to them. This regular feedback is important for them to learn what words mean and letting them know that we’re talking and thinking about the same object, feeling or event. It’s also a way of creating or reinforcing our bond with our children as they rapidly grow and develop through the months and years.