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Language Development

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Without proper instruction, most children learn how to use language early in life. However, children do not learn only by imitating people around them. We know that children apply linguistic rules on their own because they use forms that adults never use, such as "we goed to the playground." They will eventually learn the standard form, went, as they sort out English syntax errors. Just like learning to walk, learning to talk requires some time for development and practice in everyday life.

So, when do children develop the abilities to talk? Usually, children say their first words between 1 to 1Ð... years. They start using complete sentences by 4 to 4Ð... years. Children know most of the fundamentals of language by the time they start kindergarten so they are able to converse easily with others. Language acquisition is not predictable. One child might say their first word at 1 year, another at 2 years. One may possibly use complete sentences at 3Ð... years, others at 5 years.

A two-year-old child understands almost everything you say, and can speak quickly with about a 100-word vocabulary. During this year they child will advance to sentences with almost five words, beginning with pronouns and understand possession. For example, "my cup," or "hey, that's mine."

Parents should try not to measure their child's vocabulary against other children. There is a strong variation in a child's language development at this age. Some develop these skills at a constant rate, while others develop it at a sporadic rate. Some children are also quieter than others. This does not mean that they are not as smart as the more talkative kids, the quieter ones may know just as many words as the talkers, but are shy about using them. Girls usually start talking before boys, but will usually even out by the time they reach first grade.

A child will understand the basic rules of language before first grade just by listening and speaking, without any instruction from the parents. Making reading a vital part of the child's life will help to improve his/her vocabulary. They can follow along, and remember much of the story at this age. Their attention span may not be that long, so try to read only short books. They will also appreciate jokes that use language and repeat things that are funny.

Children should have an active vocabulary, around 300 words by the age of three. He/she should be able to communicate in sentences of six or seven words and imitate most of the sounds they hear. They may seem to be constantly chattering at this age. This is essential to their learning new words, and gaining practice in using and thinking with them. It is through language where they can express their thoughts, depending on how advanced they are, and they will have more ways to tell you what they are thinking.

Between the ages of three and four, a child's speech may be good enough that a stranger can understand most of what they are saying. However, they may mispronounce almost



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