Language Developement

Have you ever wanted to know how language develops? How you become a native ‘speaker’ of language? Well I am going to look at how we acquire our language, and the stages that every person goes through.

Although it may sound strange but it may even be possible for babies to acclimatise to the sounds of their own native language.   This has been looked into by researchers such as Mehler who found that babies even as young as 4 years old were able to distinguish their language from others. During the first few weeks of a baby’s life they express themselves by crying, although cries seem to be instinctive noises instead of an actual ‘language’. After this, babies usually go through the ‘cooing’ stage, this is when they start to get control over there vocal cords.
Then one of the most important stage stages is the babbling stage, this stage usually happens between six and nine months. During this stage the child produces reduplicated monosyllables for example ‘mama’ and ‘dada’. At first the child’s phonemes expand, this is known as phonemic expansion, after this the child then goes through the phonemic contraction. Phonemic contraction occurs when the child discards the sounds that are not needed for the native language.   Another development in this stage is intonation and gesture. The child although has not begun to speak they can still communicate by pointing or facial expressions. Children also pick up the intonation of speech such as the rise at the end of a question, although children cannot speak this does not mean they cannot understand their native language. A child is usually a year old when they speak their first recognisable word. After this the child has an explosion in vocabulary.

Figure   [ 1 ]

Figure 1 gives indication of the amount of vocabulary spoken and the vocabulary understood at different stages of a childs life. These of course are only indications as children develope at different times. There are of course other factors which contribute...