How Does A Baby Learn A Language?
Most infants have the intrinsic ability to learn to talk. Your newborn baby comes to you ready to learn language.
A baby listens to the sounds around her, including the sounds of her parents’ language. She will experiment with her mouth and voice; she’ll create sounds and sound combinations that begin to sound more like her parents’ speech.
By her first birthday she'll be saying her first word! Her parents will be delighted!
Speech and language will continue to develop over the next several years. Speech sounds will be pronounced correctly, vocabulary will expand, grammar will become more complex and the use of social language refined. She’ll learn to read and write in her first few years of school. She’ll continue to expand and cultivate her language and literacy skills.
Her most important asset for learning language is you, her parents! This is not just a cliché – it is crucial to understand that this is so.
Talk to her, respond to her cooing and babbling, answer her inquisitive questions, provide an environment rich in language, read to her from an early age.
By interacting and talking to her from infancy you will be providing her the opportunity to learn speech and language properly.
Every interaction you have with your baby is an opportunity for her to develop the skills necessary to get her needs and wants met, to acquire the skills to interact socially, and to develop the tools for learning to read, write and do well in school.
Give her the opportunity to learn her most important lifelong skill – the ability to communicate.
Having some knowledge about speech and language development milestones – what your child should comprehend when she hears language and what she should be saying by certain ages – will better equip you to provide a language-rich home.
Use the Language Development charts as a simple guideline to help you understand the stages of language acquisition and determine if your child is where she needs to be.
Not sure? Talk with a certified speech language pathologist (SLP). A short discussion about your child’s speech and language skills will help the SLP determine if an assessment is necessary; the SLP may also be able to offer suggestions or coach you on how to provide an ideal language learning environment for your child.
So how should you interact to encourage this language learning and growth?
It’ll come naturally!
For assurance, look at the suggestions with examples for specific ages in How To Talk to Your Baby.
Use the approaches listed there.
And remember, ….your interactions are the opportunities for your baby to learn language.
Give her many! ........and then give her more!
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