IN THE MIDST OF LANGUAGE MASTERY: 5 things you can do to be a part of your child's language learning journey
January 21, 2015
The brain develops at a rapid rate after birth, sometimes adding up to 250 000 neurons a minute! By the time a child reaches the age of 6 there are already millions of neurons and neurological connections in the brain. This is one of the reasons why a child quickly picks up the fundamental skills involved in communication, using the language(s) they are exposed to. Most children will be able to learn the sounds of words, basic grammar and sentence structure, as well as categorise important and frequently used words; by the age of 5. However, language development doesn’t just stop there.
It has been found that after the age of 5, children’s brains have a significant increase in the amount of gray matter in the temporal (processes auditory information and memory) and parietal lobes (processes and integrates sensory information). This influences their language and spatial learning abilities. In terms of language learning, this means that the middle childhood period (between 6-12 years old) is when language gets more refined and sophisticated.
Hence, between the ages of 6 and 9, a child is developing language skills that will eventually allow them to:
Be attentive in group settings and participate in group discussions
Listen to sequential directions
Speak clearly with proper intonation.
Ask relevant questions/Giverelevant answers
Self-correct reading errors, if necessary
Spell simple words with or without aids (e.g. dictionary)
Have basic writing skills to pen simple stories or explanations.
More advancement occurs after 9 years of age. By the time a child reaches his/her 11th or 12th birthday, he/she should be able to:
Listen actively and draw conclusions on subject matter
Make planned presentations with proper eye contact and gestures
Summarise main points verbally
Read varied reading material (fiction and non-fiction)
Infer meaning of new words in reading materials by identifying root words.
Have varied writing styles
Write with more sophisticated sentence structure
As we all know, child development has much to do with nurture as it does with nature. Hence, children within this developmental range could use some help from adults as well. Here are 5 ways on how parents or caregivers can assist a child in his/her language learning journey:
Engage the child in frequent verbal communication. This can be as simple as getting them to share what happened in their day to sharing their opinions on things they hear or read about.
Help the child with the details of the language they are learning e.g. identify/recognise sound patterns of words through rhymes or recognize spelling patterns
Expose them to a variety of reading materials
Encourage them to write by keeping a diary or writing letters
Play language games such as Scrabble or Charades
*Note: Every child is unique and will reach these milestones in various ways and differing speeds.
1. Cortex and Lobes of the Brain (n.d.) [Diagram of temporal and parietal lobes] The Coalition for Science after School. Retrieved from: http://brainmadesimple.com/
2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.) Your Child’s communication Development: Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/communicationdevelopment/
3. Loop, E. (n.d.). Language Development in Middle Childhood. Globalpost. Retrieved from: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/language-development-middle-childhood-2757.html
5. Australian Early Development Census (n.d.) Brain Development. Retrieved from: http://www.aedc.gov.au/communities/aedc-userguide/understanding/what-influences-child-development/brain-development
Done all of the above and still looking for interesting ways to aid a child’s language development?
Why not contact Brainworks Education- an enrichment company that has been conducting language programmes for children from schools all over Singapore. We conduct Public-Speaking Programmes, Writing Workshops, Reading Programmes and many more- all targeted at developing a child’s language ability to his/her fullest potential (with a little abit of fun of course!)