Literacy is critical and this is something we, as working adults and students, understand and accept. It isn’t only critical when you’re in college trying to write a great paper or in the office writing a keynote for your next conference, but it is especially critical when you’re a child trying to convey why you are upset. In a study published by Dickinson et al. (2012) titled “How Reading Books Fosters Language Development around the World”, the importance of early literacy exposure is discussed and its benefits highlighted. Among these benefits include the self-regulation of emotion, attention, and behavior.
There are six principles that positively affect language learning in children:
- Children need to hear many words often.
- This is self explanatory. When children hear more words, they’ll have more to pick up. Also, repetition is key. Practice makes perfect.
- Children learn words when they are interested.
- Showing a five-year-old a book about U.S. history probably isn’t going to get you far, no matter how many colors it has. Something relevant that they can laugh and smile at will be easier for them to build their lexical empire upon.
- Children learn best when adults are responsive to them.
- Interaction is crucial. Taking turns with a child allows them to share joint-focus and express positive affect.
- Words are learned when meanings are made clear.
- Pointing to objects or making gestures are fine ways of teaching children new words. Still, direct teaching of a definition remains the fastest route to acquisition.
- Vocabulary and grammar are learned together.
- Teach words in complete sentences. This way, children will pick up on parts of speech and learn how to structure their future attempts.
- Keep it positive!
- Language growth is better facilitated through affirmations. Prohibitions (i.e. “Don’t touch that!”) are negative, conversation closers. Affirmations on the other hand (i.e. “That’s a nice shirt!”), allow for engaging in conversation and further language exchange.
This is a storybook for two-year-olds that I created using some of these principles. Can you identify which ones?