Language Development: Let's get real!

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A Special Word…

This past Thanksgiving holiday offered me the chance to spend precious time with my dear ones, like many of you I suspect. What made this Thanksgiving so fun this year was getting to play with my soon-to-be 1-year-old grandson! We played with blocks and stuffed animals—complete with the sounds they make. I gave him blanket sleigh rides on the wood floors, zooming and bobbing down the hallway and turning back. It was epic! It was especially since Keanan is beginning to make some huge cognitive leaps in the area of language development, and you better believe this grandpa is right on his heels, listening for distinguishable sounds that indicate he is actually listening for sounds that people make and trying to mimic them. At one point during our play, I asked Keanan something that I, of course, knew he couldn’t answer verbally…but that wasn’t the point. All of the sudden, Keanan blurted out “umpa,” and as you can imagine, I was elated.

You know, Keanan is typical of so many other little ones about his age. Language development is ongoing, but when Keanan spoke the word “umpa”, it ignited a thought I wanted to share today.

Every aspect of language development is critical for every child, but the human brain is the hero here. This little boy’s brain is constantly inputting important information that it needs to remember sounds as people utter them, link the sounds to facial expressions, mouth movements, and inflections of higher and lower pitches. It is always taking a running record of repeated sounds that seem to occur at specific times and in specific contexts. It is something of a miracle if you ask me. Developmental language is exciting stuff, and when adults become intentional about their modeling of correct and appropriate language, they are upping the odds that the child will learn to speak that way, as well. I am so thankful that we possess the ability to process all of this information in order to become language communicators. As we approach the holidays when there are likely many little ones around, sit back for just a moment and take in the miracle of their ever-growing language skills and burgeoning vocabulary, and if you get a chance, take some time to model for them a Bible verse, a line of a poem, or read them a Dr. Seuss book that has a lot of fun words. You will be surprised at what they might learn from you!

 

 

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David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.