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Can Language Acquisition Research and Theory Help Caregivers?

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Reading and taking courses in any and all segregated subjects pertaining to child development deepens our understanding and enjoyment of our work, so it’s probably a plus that you took the language course language experts have been disputing for two centuries exactly how humans acquire language. They believe that knowing the origins of language acquisition is of paramount importance. Undoubtedly it is to academics who devote whole careers to this specialty.  However, our “career” is developing children, and the only things we really have to know about language acquisition are:

  1. How to “say” what little children are seeing, doing, and needing and encouraging them to do the same,
  2. How to listen attentively and respond appropriately,
  3. How to notice when language isn’t coming along within a normal range, and
  4. How to work with colleagues, parents, and specialists (if needed) to help children with language delays or special problems.

Researchers and theoreticians who have specialized in language acquisition have agreed for many decades that human babies are born with an innate ability to learn language – whatever language is spoken around them. Piaget pointed out that although the human species’ intellect is psychobiologically programmed to mature through stages of thinking (from concrete to symbolic), it’s activated and challenged by running into challenging experiences at the frontiers of its capacity that cause it to react by assimilating thinking and behavior to it. In exactly the same way, researchers and theoreticians (Bruner, for example) tell us, the human species’ language learning capability matures through stages of readiness but is activated and challenged by running into experiences that challenge it to understand or to use more language To a degree, being aware of the major findings of research and theory in all special aspects of child development can help caregivers. As caregivers, we have to blend splintered knowledge together and balance it, because our expertise is in helping whole children develop in all dimensions, with emphasis on the development of high self-esteem, sensible, self-discipline, and good, strong character (ego).

Ask Dr. Susan