The power of the English language
The English language is rich with an incredible number of words. Do you ever stop to think about the types of word we use? If there is something you need to say, there is a word for that. We have words that name, action and describe – just to mention a few. We need to hear language in order to learn language. We also need to see and experience language.
Baby books often feature an item on the page, and then the word describing the item below. Ball, Boat, Car. These words talk about concrete objects (nouns). As simple as these books may seem to adults, to babies, they’re a necessary part of learning a language – not to mention interesting and effective for the baby. Nouns are among the first words children learn. It’s much easier for a child to catch the idea of a concrete and tangible object they can see and touch.
Until we learn the name for physical, concrete objects, we have difficulty acquiring sentence structure and combining words into phrases. It doesn’t mean that babies won’t understand when they are spoken to. Speaking to children is exactly what helps children learn to communicate. They pay attention to sentences and learn which words are things, which words are actions and which words describe. We can understand long before we string two words together. But before we can combine two word phrases, we need to acquire an understanding of sentence structure.
Of course, a child, nor their parent, will know when a child has learned natural sentence structure. What you will notice is children are able to express themselves more creatively. Children will say new words and string words together into phrases. These early attempts at sentences should be celebrated and enjoyed as children start to master their language.
Taking this theory and putting it into practice, it reminds us to communicate with infants and children. So chatter away. Explain to children what you’re doing. Use their name, use your name and describe what you see. Giving children a rich sense of vocabulary will help children understand the world around them and give them words they can use to express themselves.