Introduction to Language – By Morenike Taiwo

Some Thoughts on Language

What is Language? Language is a means of communicating ideas or feelings by the introduction of sounds which is the spoken language. Language can also be in form of signs which is referred to as written language.

The human tendency to communicate with one another has brought about the emergence of language as a means of communication. Dr Maria Montessori said, “To talk is in the nature of man”.

It is therefore important to give language to the child at an early stage and all language should be given to the child within a context. The names, titles as well as labels, and the meaning of things within his environment should be offered to the child to be relevant. This will help the child to see the greater picture of things and give things meaning as he progresses in life.

How Language Calls the Child

When the child is born, he has that internal ability of language waiting to appear at the appropriate time, although he cannot offer the language immediately, but with time, language will be ready to explode in him. 

The child progresses from hearing sounds within his environment and getting attracted to it. He focuses his attention on the adult within his environment and listens as much as he watches as they offer the gift of spoken language to him. He watches the movements of their lips and tries to imitate them. 

All the while, he is silent and not speaking, he is absorbing all the language that is being offered to him from his immediate environment. Internally, he is discriminating the sounds within him - he is differentiating speech and other sounds through a specialized mechanism. This tells us, that he is isolating the sound of speech that he is hearing from other sounds.

When the child begins to speak, he starts with noises like dreams and later progresses to blabbing. He later begins to make coherent sounds of speech in syllables by calling Pa! Ma!! He begins to mimic the adults in his surroundings. 

The child usually starts with one syllable word. By the time the child is 2 years of age, his language will be fully enriched and established.

When the language is calling the child and he tries to mimic the adult in his environment, we call it ‘baby talk’ because we adults cannot comprehend what information the child is trying to pass to us. We seldom understand what the child is saying and tend to ignore it. 

This can be very frustrating to the child because he is trying to communicate something to us and we are not responding in the affirmative, rather we think the child is baby-talking. 

The child gets so frustrated that he sometimes tends to throw tantrums just to get attention and for his voice to be heard. This can be so frustrating because he is trying to relate with us (adults) in his own understanding, but we fail to see reason with him but rather as adults, we make jest of him by mimicking his wrongly pronounced words whereby we were supposed to help him in enriching his language and develop his vocabulary by offering the correct pronunciation to his hearing instead of mimicking him.

The child should not be left in isolation. When a child is left in isolation, the tendency that his vocabulary will not be enriched but poor is so high compared to when a child is sent to school to mix with other children whereby, he can enrich and develop his language and vocabulary. 

This is where Dr. Maria Montessori is calling for a special school for children below two years of age. If these categories of children are enrolled in schools, she opined that their language and vocabulary will be well grounded and developed than their counterparts that are not enrolled in schools below the age of two. 

Unconsciously, these children will learn their language composition and the use of the parts of speech without knowing they are doing so - nouns, verbs, short sentences, and phrases will be developed without prior knowledge and this eventually gives them the key to the world of spoken language and vocabulary which gives them firm grasp and command of the English Language.

To achieve this great feat for the person the child will become and liberation to the world of language development and vocabulary acquisition around him, all these must happen in the child’s first plane of development (ages 0-6) of the child for success to be achieved and attained at its optimum/peak.