Research on Language Development in the Early Years
Research makes evident language development begins at the early age of 4 months old. However, unborn babies will also begin to hear and recognise sounds around 18 weeks of pregnancy. This exciting time of development first starts with baby recognising sound, and more specifically the sound of the mother’s voice. Babies become attuned and attached to this reoccurring sound, as it stimulates neurological indicators in the baby’s brain. From this moment, the baby begins to deconstruct the process of communicative language.
As outlined in the Thrive philosophical approach to education, Vygotsky’s theoretical perspective is key to the pedagogical approaches of supporting language development. Aligning with our emphasises on language in the early years, Lev Vygotsky coined the importance of language development as the foundational way for children to acquire knowledge, building on their cognition and conveying their knowledge to others. This process involves all of Vygotsky’s key concepts, including the more knowledgeable other and scaffolding.
Although language does develop naturally, research encourages opportunities for children to explore language processes and concepts, as this assists them later on to develop strong foundations in reading and writing.
Further to Thrive’s philosophical approach, we believe oral language has an overall impact on learning, specifically in the development of social skills and cognition. Therefore, nurturing oral development is essential for our educators within their pedagogical practices and planning of the curriculum.
How does Listening Skills contribute?
Communication is broken down into two processes: Expressive and Receptive. Both are essential in the development of language. Expressive communication is when an individual speaks orally, conveying meaning. Receptive communication is the ability to listen and internalise what others are saying to comprehend the information.
Children must have opportunities to listen to sound through language so they can begin to deconstruct vocabulary and sentences. Collectively, combined with opportunities to explore print, this process also contributes to early literacy.
Thrive’s Approach to Language in the Early Years
Now let’s talk about how Thrive uses this important information in the development and facilitation of the curriculum.
Thrive ensures each weekly curriculum has language experiences planned, stemming from children’s interests and developmental capabilities. Through this planning our skilful educators purposefully outline strategies to facilitating these experiences, making sure language is not just seen as “singing or story book reading” .
Rather, we place an emphasis on using the developmental milestones, and EYLF outcomes to ensure language learning is occurring throughout the day in both child-led and teacher-led experiences.
These examples can be seen through:
- Dramatic play
- Small group games
- Puppet play
- Story telling & show and tell
Like many of the key areas of child development, Thrive prides itself on applying a unique approach to language education. In ensuring children not only gain from language in English, Thrive embeds a cultural approach to language development by facilitating the ELLA program, involving the integrated use of our interactive whiteboards as teaching tools. Within the ELLA program children apply creativity and imagination as they create their own avatars and complete tasks within the program. Using the ELLA program allows both our educators and children to learn languages together.
Additionally, our Thrive services have a French teacher from the company Bonjour babies attend our services each week for a planned language learning program. Our connection with Bonjour babies has been reoccurring for many years, and we are proud to say we have most certainly seen the benefits it has with children, families and educators. The fluent French teachers use a range of teaching strategies and resources to support everyone involved in learning and remembering French. Our service invites all enrolled families to be part of this special class by participating and using the resources to encourage continuous learning at home.