Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Language Development through Social Interaction

One question that stood out to me from our textbook was “How do children make sense of the blooming, buzzing confusing of speech sounds?” (Page 184) In response to this question I have a somewhat Piaget approach, that is as a child develops language they go through a process of first being able to somewhat physically control the movement of their mouth. Second perceive actions and their responses. Third be able to combine the two and experience and learn from the sounds they make and the responses those sounds get in return. The reason why I say that I see the development of language through a Piaget perspective is that I believe they learn language through experience with the outside world. I believe children learn this at a very young age, for example crying when they are hungry or uncomfortable, or simply to get attention. It seems that because a child knows that crying is an effective way of getting what they want crying builds into babbling and eventually leads to conversing as means of connecting with the outside world. I believe that most of this learning of language is guided by the people who care for the child, or are around the child in general. A child’s experience of learning language comes not only in the verbal manner of responding to the child but also in the non-verbal manner of responding. An example would be feeding a baby when it cries of making a shocked face if an infant says something inappropriate.
My personal experience of learning language can also support learning a majority of language through social experience. I was born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog fluently. Then when my parents moved to Oregon when I was 6 years old I transitioned into speaking and understanding English through social interaction with my classmates, and simply observing what words and sounds they used along with the responses they got in return. I can vividly remember staying in the back of the room knowing in my head what I wanted to say but couldn't put the words together in my head in english, so I listened to my classmates and teacher talk and commuicate with eachother. After a while I was putting sentences together and before I knew it I was capable of conversing with my classmates. I never took English Second Language (ESL) classes and was never “formally” taught English besides what everyone learned at school. It amazes me how smooth the transition was for me. Now I struggle to speak Tagalog but understand it completely because after learning English I rarely ever spoke Tagalog again. When I’m in an environment where Tagalog is spoken a lot I find myself catching on fairly quickly.
My experience with language deals with a lot of the concepts mentioned in class this Thursday. Concepts such as social cues and a child learning how to understand the world around them by listening to their parents or looking at their parents reaction when they say something. Babies are put into this world and from the start they start to develop the needed social skills to help them survive (e.g. crying), and then they become more complex with sounds that turn into babbling and babbling that turn into actual words that later turn into complex sentences. I know that the ability and means of learning language is different for many different people but I believe a key ingredient is social interaction and observation, by both the child and the parents (finding ways to effectively communicating with the child by calling attention to what the child is looking at). My personal experience shows the importance of learning language through social interaction and observation, and how I put my abilities and understanding together to effectively communicate with others.

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