Language Acquisition

Categories // Teaching Aids

What is language acquisition? Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate.

Can an infant be bilingual? It is entirely possible to teach an infant two or even three languages, and four is not unheard of. Cambodian’s speak Khmer, which is not an international language, thus Khumers need to think like the Swiss or Belgians, small country but outside contact is absolutely necessary for certain classes of society.

Language Development There appears to be a 'window' of learning language that 'opens' at about the age of ten months. Infants can hear much earlier, of course, and there is some evidence that they can even hear in the womb. It is clear that they will begin to imitate the 'noises' they hear, and when there is a reaction from their caregivers, they begin to associate meanings with the sounds. Over the next two years, infants acquire language at an astonishing rate. By the age of three, they have acquired basic sentence structure, basic grammar, and a large vocabulary of basic words necessary to their physical and emotional survival. Their motivation to talk with their caregivers is high: asking for something usually results in being given the thing they need. Similarly, when the infant begins to play outside, with other children, then the motivation to talk to these children is high, and the infant will try to learn the language of play. Later on, at school, the language of the school will be important, too.

The important thing to remember is that each child is an individual, and that each child will learn when they are ready to learn. If you think your is 'late' learning to talk, be sure you have ruled out all possible physical causes, including possible deafness, and then just wait. Especially if there is more than one language in the baby's home environment, then the baby will be learning first to process and separate the different languages, before talking begins.

There is considerable debate among linguists as to when the 'language learning window' closes, if it closes at all. However, there does seem to be an 'optimal' age for language learning, when the child's mind is still open and flexible, and not cluttered with all sorts of other learning. At the moment, the ideal time for learning a second language appears to be at the same time as the first language, from birth to three years.Overall parents and early childhood teachers should start early with foreign languages as the brain of a young learner is like a sponge.

Teaching language….

  • Read out loud
  • Sing to your children and teach them songs and nursery rhymes
  • Showing video films (radio is not as good as there are no visual clues)
  • Have other adults or children talk to the child in English

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