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How do language and literacy develop?

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How do language and literacy develop?

Category: Persuasive Essay

Subcategory: Education

Level: Academic

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

How do Language and Literacy Develop?

How do Language and Literacy Develop?
Language defines the verbal and non-verbal characteristics used by humans to communicate to one another. At birth, all individuals have no ability to communicate. However, almost immediately after birth, they begin to acquire the basic elements of communication. As children interact with adults and their surroundings, behaviourists believe that their observation of the environment facilitates their process of learning languages. This is because they observe communication patterns from those around them. However, contrary perspectives indicate that the process of acquiring languages is not solely dependent on observation and learning (Saxton, 2010). This is because many children can compose many sentences using language structures they have never encountered before. According to Noam Chomsky, this alludes to the presence of a special learning device that facilitates language acquisition (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001). The theories of language acquisition include nativist, cognitivist, and interactionist among others, which facilitate the acquisition of phonology, semantics, grammar, and pragmatics to gain total command and the ability to manipulate a language.
The Basic Components of Human Language and Development
Human communication gets affected in both productive e and receptive parameters that involve active and passive participation. As language begins to develop, children must learn various elements regarding the sounds that make up a language, rules of language, meanings of sounds and words, and the appropriateness of use of language in every context and location. These elements define the basic components of human language that must be developed in language acquisition. They include phonology, semantics, grammar, and pragmatics (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001). Commonly referred to as phonemes, the segments that make up recognizable sounds in a language remain the most important in language acquisition. Learners begin by understanding and internalizing these segments that uniquely exist in every language. Semantics defines linguistic systems that attach meanings to the words and phrases in a language. Again, children must internalize these by noting the correct meaning of every word. Grammar moves from meanings of individual words and phrases to the rules by which these elements get combined to come up with statements and sentences. Pragmatics relates to social placing for languages. As children learn languages, they must remain aware that various elements of language are only fit for certain settings (Rowland, 2014).
Stages of Language Learning and Literacy Development
Notably, individuals can engage in the process of language acquisition for their first language or second language. They have to acquire languages progressively and build upon basic concepts to advance to more complex ones. In first language acquisition, the children remain incognizant of the fact that they are acquiring a language in stages. Thus, the course takes a natural process and remains intrinsic. On the other hand, second language acquisition adapts a process in which the participants are more aware of the fact that they are learning. In this sense, they can understand the concepts and stages of language learning (Saxton, 2010).
The first stage of language learning occurs as a child begins to produce random but incomprehensible sounds some reasons or none at all. This stage gets referred to as “Babbling” because the sounds made by the child at this stage are more of babbles. Notably, some of these sounds may be made for communication purposes while others may not be for communication. At this stage, children’s communication abilities are still limited. However, they may still understand some communication from their parents and nod their heads in agreement to questions, or in disagreement. Additionally, they may simply point to whatever they desire to have. This trend replicates itself in second language acquisition where the stage is referred to as ‘Preproduction’. Learners at this stage have the limited understanding of the language and may depend of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ frequently with the aid of non-verbal communication (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001).
While first language acquisition processes refer to the second stage of language acquisition as ‘One-Word’ stage or Holophrastic stage, those of second language acquisition name it the stage of ‘Early Production’. At this stage, learners begin to comprehend phonemes and utterly recognizable sounds or those that can be associated with some sounds. For example, if they believe that their mothers are called ‘mama’, children may use the same words or varied productions like ‘mbamba’ or ‘nana’ to refer to females who resemble their mothers. At the same time, the words may be used in the absence of the mothers to imply that they want the mother. This is similar to second language acquisition where learners acquire the ability to produce simple words with occasional phrases in the present tense. Nonetheless, many phrase combinations at this stage convey meaning but remain awkward. At this stage, there is an extent of associative meaning without the entirety of perfection (Rowland, 2014).
The ‘Two-Word’ stage marks the third stage of language acquisition for first language learners. This gets referred to as ‘Speech Emergence’ in the processes of second language acquisition. At this stage, there is a representation of increased completeness of thought. Learners appear to comprehend increased sensitivity with abilities to utilize increased numbers of phrases in linguistic composition. A typical example for a first language learner is the case of a child relating their father to a property like a car. Thus, they end up saying ‘daddy car’ (Wyse & Jones, 2001). Notably, most phrases in this stage are formed by two words at a time. Although they present an extent of associative meaning, many of them remain grammatically awkward. In second language acquisition, learners or children can also compose simple phrases that they use to communicate basic ideas. These are characterised by inaccurate sentence structures, poor grammatical compositions, and poor delivery of complex meanings. Nonetheless, the children’s language at this stage presents sufficiency in responding to questions like whom, why, and how (Saxton, 2010).
The fourth stage of language acquisition is referred to as the “Telegraphic” stage. In this particular stage, the child’s analytical skills enhance and the ability for implied applications and increased addition of sentences emerges. The words have further implied purpose rather than easily identifying objects. With a child’s life, roughly age two, they begin getting new words further swiftly and the vocabulary increases on the rate involving numerous words that can be approximated at about 10 words per week. It is clearly noticeable at this stage that linguistic competency is increasing with the child beginning to become more proficient in communication. A distinctive mark of the first learner is their association with increased purpose and the ability to combine increased numbers of phrases (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001). For the second language learner, this stage gets referred to as “Intermediate Fluency” because the elements of linguistic fluency begin to creep into an individual’s writings. More completeness is witnessed in thoughts and sentences, and there is a remarkable reduction in the number of grammatical mistakes made by the involved individual. There is an almost excellent level of comprehension with an advanced one of production. At this stage, learners go beyond comprehension and composition (Rowland, 2014). Instead, they begin applying analytic skills to the language. Their communication ability is complete.
The final stage of linguistic acquisition for both the first language and second language learners is called ‘Fluency’. For the first language learners, they achieve completeness in sentence construction, thought presentation, the lexical flow of ideas, and coherence and flow in language. They manipulate words to their advantage without trouble and integrate verbal and non-verbal communication easily. Similarly, second language learners achieve the prowess of linguistic control to the extent they may be mistaken for native speakers. All their phonological, semantic, pragmatic, and grammatical applications remain in place with excellent combinations (Saxton, 2010).
As individuals acquire the language, they interactively integrate and internalize the cultures and norms that form a foundation for the language of study. The effectiveness of language facilitates the survival of individuals through communicative and comprehension abilities.
In summary, the stages of language development begin with the ‘Babbling’ stage that falls between six months and one year. This has basic sounds that get reinforced by parents. It is followed by the ‘One-Word’ or ‘Holophrastic’ stage with single words that bear multiple meanings based on contextual orientation. It occurs from one to two years. The third stage is the ‘Two-Word’ stage where specificity in meaning increases. This is common in the second year of growth and development. It is followed by the ‘Telegraphic’ stage where strings are realized as individuals move to ‘Fluency, after the third year (Wyse & Jones, 2001).
Nativist and Interactionist Theories of Language Development
Based on the interpretations of Noam Chomsky, the nativist perspective sought to view the process of language acquisition as independent of any form of conditioning. Instead, Chomsky established biological associations that would be used in explicating language learning and acquisition processes. Identifiably, many individuals learn an impressive amount of vocabulary and sentence patterns (Rowland, 2014). However, this is in no way responsible for their expressive use of the same patterns to produce patterns not yet learnt. It is this capacity that Chomsky identified as innate in every human being at birth. Thus, as humans, he believed that we bear an instinctive and intrinsic ability to generate an unlimited number of words and sentence patterns in a language. Similarly, Chomsky disputed the idea that language is acquired by learning and conditioning alone. Instead, he identifies the presence of a learning acquisition device (LAD) in children, which assists them in internalizing language (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001). Critical pointers to this belief include the fact that children compose uniquely wrong sentences despite being in environments where correct linguistic compositions are the order of the day. Further, he indicates that the need for language and communication is natural and inherent. Even in the absence of a language, many children born to a world of no language will promptly develop their own (Wyse & Jones, 2001).
In sum, the nativist approach applies the belief in transformational generative grammar. It points to the presence of innate principles and the minds natural ability to generate and manipulate language.
On the other hand, the interactionist theory of language acquisition that was developed by Lev Vygotsky’s focuses on social interactions instead of innate abilities. To an extent, this approach supports Piaget except to the limit to which social interactions should be prioritized in language learning. Based on the existence of a zone of proximal development (ZPD), Vygotsky proceeds to explain that children will learn languages faster when they interact with others who have already learnt the language as opposed to when they don’t (Saxton, 2010). Thus, association and lack of association creates the critical mark differentiating a child’s potential and the actual learning they achieve in language acquisition.
Implications of Language Acquisition in Early Childhood Settings
Early childhood settings present one of the most challenging teaching environments. Besides character formulation and foundational establishment for children, teachers must ensure that they set the right environment for the acquisition of language and the achievement of fluency. This begins by understanding the stage in which every child is and the expectations laid on them concerning language acquisition. In theory application, teachers should come up with an integrated model that stimulates individual development and at the same time encourages social interaction (Wyse & Jones, 2001). This is because both the individual and their surroundings play an important role in language acquisition. Every time the teacher identifies a child who is not up to expectation, they should carry out assessments and engage relevant stakeholders. Such steps would lead to the possible identification of speech or other disorders that may limit child development.
In sum, teachers and caregivers in early childhood settings should watch children keenly always to ensure all language acquisition expectations are timely and in place. In cases where challenges occur, they should react promptly to establish the relevant intervention strategies.

Bowerman, M., & Levinson, S. (2001). Language Acquisition and Conceptual Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rowland, C. (2014). Understanding child language acquisition. New York: Routledge Publishing.
Saxton, M. (2010). Child Language: Acquisition and Development. London: Sage Publications.
Wyse, D., & Jones, R. (2001).Teaching English, Language, and Literacy. New York: Psychology Press.

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