Oral Language Development

This semester, students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to our blog.

By Alyssa Trevino                                                                                               

 Language development and acquisition is crucial to children’s academic success. All educators should foster and promote oral and written languages. Language development is supported by many theoretical perspectives

 Language is based on five aspects of knowledge; phonology, semantic, syntactic, morphology, and pragmatic knowledge. These aspects of knowledge are crucial to develop in order to communicate effectively.

  • Phonology – The sounds and patterns that are associated with language.
  • Semantic- The words of a language and the meanings connected with those words.
  • Syntactic- The structure of words used to create phrases and sentences. (grammatical rules) 
  • Morphology- Morphemes are the smallest units that form meaning language. (prefixes and suffixes)
  • Pragmatic- Language is adjusted based on the audience being spoken to. 

The five aspects of knowledge are all interrelated. A single aspect of knowledge can not exist without an interrelation with the other four aspects of language. In order for children to become effective communicators they need to acquire oral and written competencies.

Oral language provides the basis on which knowledge of written language is acquired. As children interact with one another and amongst various environments, children begin to develop vocabulary for a means of communication. Children begin to form receptive and expressive modes of competencies.  These competencies serve as a strong foundation for reading and writing skills.

 The process of language development has intrigued many educators and researchers. There are major theorists and practices that have impacted today’s educational field. Theorists such as Chomsky and Piaget focus on language as an instinctive process. Language is seen as something that is innate or an inborn human capability. Oral language does not have to be taught but rather acquired subconsciously.     

Theorists such as Skinner and Vygotsky believe that language is a nurturing process. To these two theorists language is seen as something that is needed to be reinforced and taught. Oral language development must be intentionally implemented and explicitly introduced.

There is not one theory that solely contributes toward language development. These theories are practiced consistently throughout head start programs. Many programs provide an oral language development block. While other head start programs believe that oral language development is embedded   throughout their entire curriculum.

Language development and acquisition start at a very early age. Infants and toddlers need positive reinforcement when developing language. It is important to be aware of the significance of adult and child interactions. Infants and toddlers use adult interaction patterns, gestures, facial expressions and conversations to develop language and its aspects.

It is important to provide students with opportunities to communicate orally and through writing. Oral language development builds a foundation for student’s academic success.

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