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Language Development
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Publishing Date: May 17, 2020

From the first weeks of life, babies are born with many “tricks” to communicate, since it is something innate to human beings. From the movements of the lips, to the agitation of his entire body, it is not possible to ignore his ability to communicate.

They do it because they are “programmed” to learn the language and respond to human voices. Since birth, the baby needs and wants to learn the language. First, there is what we call the pre-linguistic period, in which the baby communicates through sound productions, such as crying, laughing, chatting and talking. At this stage, we must also highlight his reaction to sounds, if he identifies the sound source by directing his gaze towards it.

 

A descoberta da comunicação

O choro é a forma mais eficaz de comunicação que o bebé dispõe contudo, por volta dos 2 meses, começa a emitir outros sons vocálicos que conciliados com os sorrisos e as gargalhadas formam o palreio. Quando o bebé palra, os adultos respondem com elogios ou frases carinhosas, criando um processo bidireccional, de estímulo-resposta
que se assemelha à conversação. Os bebés aprendem regras básicas da linguagem muito antes de serem capazes de falar.

A partir dos 7 meses, a sua capacidade de compreensão encontra-se num estado de evolução, que desperta a sua atenção para os sons das conversas à sua volta, sentindo interesse pelas conversas dos adultos. Também, já consegue reconhecer o seu nome e toma atenção quando falar directamente com ele. No seguimento desta etapa, surge a lalação que consiste na repetição de sílabas, por exemplo, os deliciosos “gu-gu”/“da-da” que encantam os mais velhos, podendo manter-se até aos 9/10 meses, e também a fase de “imitação”, em que os bebés copiam não só os
gestos, mas também os sons.

Por volta dos 10 a 11 meses, existe uma nova evolução (pode acontecer mais tarde), o bebé começa a juntar os vários sons, de forma a que pareçam palavras e frases: “ohh – ahh – mama”. Nesta fase, o desenvolvimento da linguagem dá um “salto”, por consequência dos estímulos que os bebés recebem para produzir “fala” como a dos seus cuidadores.

 

The first words

Shortly after 12 months, the first word appears, but remember: each child has their own pace of development! They are usually monosyllables or repetitions of syllables, for example, “ó-ó” for bed / sleep or “mom” for mother, always corresponding to people or objects significant to the baby. However, once the first word is said, you will see how your vocabulary multiplies quickly, as you start experimenting with new words and adding new sounds. At first, the new words reach a dropper (one to two months), but soon you will hear new words every few days.

At 18 months, the baby’s vocabulary can include between forty to fifty words, or even more, managing to understand about two hundred words. By this time, he is able to understand simple phrases and orders, starting the production of holophrases (e.g., he says “ua” to convey the idea of ​​”I want to go to the street”) and he is able to name familiar objects. Around 2 years old, he will use about two to three hundred words, in which 50% of the sounds are clear and intelligible, and will understand about a thousand words. This development of the language from birth until now, allows the baby to understand more complex orders, say his name and build sentences with two to three words.

 

“Complicate speech”

With the age of 3, grammatical skills emerge, such as the use of plurals and prepositions, as well as the application of questions in his speech (“age of whys”). The child’s vocabulary is varied, allowing him to understand simple sentences. However, in their expression the phrases are still telegraphic respecting the basic structure (Subject-Verb-Object), for example (“João wants milk”). It is also in this age group, that the manipulation of the sounds of the language appears through games with rhymes and syllabic segmentation, which will be the basis for the acquisition of reading ability, later.

At 4 years of age the child presents a speech, grammatically, closer to that of adults. He is already able to report past events or heard stories, through grammatically complete sentences. In terms of the production of the sounds of your language
maternal, from the age of 5 the child should be able to master most sounds, extinguishing their exchanges and / or omissions in words.

With cognitive development, the child will continue to increase the complexity and variability of his vocabulary, creating the necessary bases for the skills he will acquire at school. Hence the importance of good language development, so that learning to read and write is not compromised, due to gaps at this level.

 

Ask for professional help

How then can we know that language development is going on “normally”? When should we consult the Speech Therapist? The ages mentioned so far, should be taken as references and not as something rigid and watertight
for all children, each case is different. In each age group there are points that could be warning signs for caregivers:

6 months: observe if the child reacts to sounds and maintains eye contact, as a form of communication (looks at you when it requires your attention);
12 months: stopped producing sound, does not react to his name and / or familiar sounds;
18 months: does not produce familiar words, shows signs of regression or stopped talking;
2 years: does not understand simple instructions, has reduced vocabulary (4 to 6 words) and has a barely noticeable speech;
3 years: the speech remains barely intelligible, uses few verbs and does not apply adjectives / articles, does not use plurals and does not form simple sentences (Beatriz rides a car).
4 years: uses short and poorly constructed sentences, cannot narrate simple and recent events and has difficulties in starting sentences or repeating syllables / words.

 

Literature

Castro, S. & Gomes, I. (2000). Dificuldades de aprendizagem da língua materna. Lisboa, Universidade Aberta

Sim.Sim, I., Silva, A. & Nunes, C. (2008). Linguagem e Comunicação no Jardim-de-Infância. Lisboa, Ministério da educação.

Sim-Sim, I. (1998). Desenvolvimento da Linguagem. Lisboa, Universidade Aberta.

Sua Kay, E. (2011). No princípio era o verbo – Reflexão sobre o desenvolvimento da comunicação e linguagem. Revista ComunicAtiva, nº2/Junho-Setembro, pág. 9-10.

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