Importance of Language Development
- The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association notes that the process of understanding ideas requires receptive language, and the process of explaining ideas requires expressive language. When a person has difficulty expressing or understanding words correctly they are said to have a language disorder. This is different than speech, which is the ability to produce sounds correctly and fluently. An individual with a language disorder may struggle to use the correct words in the correct order, but they will pronounce the sounds correctly.
- According to the NIH, language development must occur over a period of time, with infants and young children mastering simple expression skills first and then learning to produce more complex sounds and words. Language development is significant to the development of speech and later learning, so experts encourage parents to expose young children to spoken and written language in order to help them develop a working vocabulary.
Milestones of Development
- The NIH offers a checklist of language development milestones. These include simple sounds and crying at birth to five months, the use of "no" and "mama" from six to 12 months and the imitation of simple words and sounds from 12 to 17 months. By 18 months old, a child will typically be able to say and understand eight to 10 simple words. The vocabulary typically expands to include approximately 50 words between ages 2 and 3. Between ages 3 and 5 children develop a vocabulary that includes basic colors, numbers, animals and objects.
Interventions for Language Development Delays
- The NIH suggests that parents with concerns about language development should consult a family physician and review the language development milestones. If the doctor finds evidence of a delay, he will typically suggest a series of hearing tests to ensure that the delay is not being caused by a hearing problem. Professional evaluations with a speech and language pathologist may also be suggested, and a professional will test the child's skills and compare them to the average skills for her age group.
Current Research on Language Development
- The NIH notes that current research in language development is investigating genetic links to language development delays. Researchers note that language development problems in parents are likely to be genetically passed to children. In addition, researchers are investigating the link between frequent ear infections in infants and young children and possible delays in language development.