Language Rich Environment
By Vicky Medcalf, Lead Teacher at Woodland Montessori Academy
From birth, a baby’s brain is already programmed to learn languages. However, they need to be immersed in a language-rich environment to communicate their needs.
In all communities around the world, we use child-directed speech. This means using simplified vocabulary, exaggerated intonation, repetitive language and a slower tempo. Child-directed speech is fundamental to learning language and helps children unpack the tools they have, to identify sound, syllables and then words.
As children grow and explore their world and the vocabulary of their ever-expanding environment, we can use contingent talk to support young learner’s language development. This means attending to and talking about what the child is paying attention to. Encourage children to share their wonderings or thinking. Doing this helps children develop and practice sustained shared thinking and further develops executive function. When children become older, we can talk about the past, present, future and feelings, through engaging in activities such as pretend play or shared experiences.
Children are social beings and learn language in a social context. Quality relationships between adult and child and spending quality time with their peers have shown to have a significant effect on speech and language development. In these social exchanges, children learn the pragmatics of language; understanding what people mean, what they require and their motivations, and the art of oral communication.
Give time and opportunity for your child to experiment with their newly developing language skills. And above all keep talking with your child.
For more information on how children’s talk develops and how to support them, please visit www.lucid.ac.uk