Play In Language Development

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Language is a critical factor in a child’s development (Spilt, Kooman & Harrison, 2015). Language itself is a mixture of sound, words, images and gestures used in contexts full of objects, sounds, actions and interactions (Hayes, 2011). All language, whether it be written or verbal, arises from cultural and social contexts and is understood by people in terms of their own social and cultural backgrounds (Green 2006). The purpose of this essay is to show that language can have different roles in a child’s development. Firstly, the role of language and how it is developed during the early years of a child’s life will be discussed, followed by the later or schooling years.
What is Language?
According to Hayes (2011) language is a gift to humans
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That is to say, before a child reaches the age of three years old. As it stands, linguists cannot account in full for the speed and the apparent ease with which almost all babies acquire the structure of one or more languages in their first three years (Whitehead 2007). Before a child reaches 18 months old however, they can vary enormously in regards to the extent at which they attempt to construct a language system (Halliday 1975). Halliday (1975) suggests that the reason for this variance could be partly due to the differences in a child’s inherent ability to imitate adult speech sounds and partly due to the differences in environment, not just how much speech they hear, but also how many different people they come into contact with. Personality can also play a factor, with children differing greatly in how they respond to other people’s reactions and also their own level of perfectionism (Halliday 1975). Whitehead (2007) describes the development of language in infants using the push-pull theory. That is, the infant is pushed into language by his or her own inner drive to communicate and share meanings, while at the same time close relationships with their carers who use specific languages pull them into a shared world of language (Whitehead …show more content…
These gestures are typically in the form of giving, showing or pointing to objects and are considered intentional communication most often used to direct and maintain a caregiver’s attention (Kuhn et al 2014). Mutually satisfying conversational activities between an infant and carer start as early as five or six weeks into a child’s life (Whitehead 2007). According to Kuhn et al (2014), these gestures have proven to be more reliable predictors of an infant’s later language development then the oral language input they receive from caregivers. It has been shown in numerous studies that an infant’s early pointing gestures predict their first words, the size of their vocabularies and the onset of two word combinations (Kuhn et al 2014). This correlation between an infant’s early gesture use and later language development has led to the belief that an infant’s early gestures provide the foundation by which oral communication is built (Kuhn et al 2014). It is not until 12 to 18 months of age that most babies have begun to speak their first fully formed words (Whitehead 2007). It can therefore be said that the language system used by very young children before they learn to speak the language of their carers is used to achieve two important results; to get things done, including involving other people, and to comment

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