Speech and language acquisition is the process whereby children acquire their first spoken language, their native language. This should not be confused with language learning, dealing with later learning of other languages. Speech continues to develop even after the language been learned and also includes the development and the natural aging process of the language.
Infant language development begins long before they begin to make use of the spoken language.
Even at birth, babies can make themselves understood by their environment using face expressions and screams. Before children have mastered the spoken language they use different ways of communication with their environment, among these are gestures, expressions, cry, gurgle, and especially body language.
How and why children acquire a language is still not entirely clear, but there are many theories on the subject. One theory is that children in early stages of their development perceive different intonations, emotions, and signals mediated through language. This makes the spoken language appealing, and awakes an interest in the child. If the so-called baby talk or child directed speech, which, among other things, uses changes in voice tonality, is pronounced in short sentences and repeats itself, the promotion of young children’s language development is debated. Some believe that this hampers the child in their development. Others believe that the child directed speech is a way to make the language more interesting and easily susceptible to the child.
At about age 4, the basic language development becomes clear to most children. Both in pronunciation and in grammar, children at that age have almost the same knowledge as adults. It is often said that children aged between one and three have different language kits.. It can also be early or late in this language development.
Children develop at different speeds, for example, when a three year old can speak “purely” and talk with long sentences, another three have an undeveloped pronunciation and have just started putting together syllables. Some children have a delayed or abnormal speech and language development, usually we do not know why. Language delay may in some cases be due to genetic factors, a general developmental delay, that you have a contact failure, various social factors such as lack of stimulation or some kind of injury that affects functions essential for language and speech development. The different age indications below are therefore approximate.
For abnormalities such as delay, see specific language impairment:
- 3-4 months: At this age, children are communicating a lot by babbling. The child cannot do other than speech sounds when their throat and adjacent organs are not fully developed. Babbling is often a sign of well-being.
- 6-7 months: Ability to scream grows with the child. This means that the child has physical abilities to express vowels. A little later, the child can also pronounce consonants.
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