There are several developmental theories purporting to state when children’s language acquisition actually begins. Linguist, Noam Chomsky claims that all babies are born with a predisposition to learn language. Few contest this claim, yet studies have shown that this is an incomplete explanation. The old nature vs. nurture debate raises its ugly head yet again when attempting to understand human communication.
The ability to communicate is what separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom, again an uncontested claim. However, few realize that the environment a child is born into is what influences a child’s proficiency with the language. We can never belittle the role of the father, however it is the mother who is of particular importance during the early stages.
After birth, the child shows a preference for the mothers’ voice. This is because they have heard her voice whilst in the womb, and this acoustic familiarity not only serves to create that all-important bond, but ensures the child feels safe and secure in her presence.
Unfortunately, this raises questions about how soon a mother should return to the workforce after giving birth, and normally this would not be a problem provided she also ensures she spends a good amount of time with her child. She is the primary teacher of language, and the child will soon begin to mimic her voice, the noises she makes. The more she talks to her child, the easier it will be for her child to learn and apply language skills.
Language learning is multi-sensory, meaning that the auditory portion is just one way to help children acquire language. Reading with children is beneficial in so many ways, because they begin to identify what a word looks like, and the context in which it is used. In addition, singing nursery rhymes are not only fun (and as babies, children don’t care how badly you sing!), but they also provide a great memory technique. I bet you all still know the “Rainbow” song, and the order of the colors. What about the “Alphabet Song?”
My message is simple. Talk, read, sing, and have fun with your children. They may never remember why, but you will have provided them with all the tools needed to develop proficient language skills.
I also write for Triond.com: http://www.triond.com/users/Donnah+Clark