FACILITATING LANGUAGE LEARNING

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First years last forever.

Language is acquired as early as in the mother’s womb. The topic of language learning brought me back to the memories of when I was conceiving my first daughter. Being excited to be a first-time mom, I did everything for my baby. I immersed myself in classical music and read-aloud nursery rhymes and stories. My daughter started to speak words at one-year-old, sentences at two, and read at three years old. She finished reading all Harry Potter books at age 8. She does not only write well but possesses extraordinary writing and oral communication prowess. I think what I did to her when she was still in my womb and during her infant years has contributed to the language skills she is exhibiting until now.  My experience with my daughter has been affirmed by the principle of Lev Vygotsky’s Social Interaction theory which stresses the importance of communication with others as a major factor in the development of a child’s language, which stimulates the development of thought. Language is acquired as early as in the mother’s womb. The topic of language learning brought me back to the memories of when I was conceiving my first daughter. Being excited to be a first-time mom, I did everything for my baby. I immersed myself in classical music and read-aloud nursery rhymes and stories. My daughter started to speak words at one-year-old, sentences at two, and read at three years old. She finished reading all Harry Potter books at age 8. She does not only write well but possesses extraordinary writing and oral communication prowess. I think what I did to her when she was still in my womb and during her infant years has contributed to the language skills she is exhibiting until now.  My experience with my daughter has been affirmed by the principle of Lev Vygotsky’s Social Interaction theory which stresses the importance of communication with others as a major factor in the development of a child’s language, which stimulates the development of thought. 

Photo by Andy Kuzma on Pexels.com

However, I still have reservations about Vygotsky’s idea that a child’s external speech is the first step in the development of thinking. Based from my experience as a preschool teacher, I had students who have language delay and have difficulty expressing themselves but exhibits advanced cognitive skills during guided and/or one on one session with the teacher. To cite a classic example; Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of all time, cannot read until the age of 8. The experience I had with my students, make me think if there is a direct connection between cognitive ability and language ability, or are they two separate parts at the beginning and just merged during the proper age. Modular theories expect language-specific learning processes and products. Constructivist and neuro constructivist approaches expect language-learning processes and products to show deep commonalities with nonlinguistic learning. My observation in this is that, because language is a very visible and/or noticeable skill, teachers mistake a nonverbal child as cognitively delayed also. The dominance of language ability may overshadow the other non-observable skills. Our task as a teacher is that our observation should not only be confined to one determinant or dominant observable skill, because maybe if we dig deeper, we might stumble a brilliant mind in one ordinary quiet kid.

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