UNDERSTANDING LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. P.O. Box 663, 314 Circle Dr. Fort Totten, ND 58335 www.spiritlakeconsulting.com Levels of Language Development INNER RECEPTIVE EXPRESSIVE - Oral

EXPRESSIVE - Written Building language *** Language development occurs in steps Inner language is the first step. A child may not know the word for Grandma but she recognizes Grandma when she sees her, understands that Grandma is the person who has the comfortable lap and who always picks her up the second she walks into a room.

Building language *** Continued Receptive language is the second step. The child does not use the word, Grandma but she understands it. When someone says, Give that block to Grandma she will go hand it to the correct person. Although in children without disabilities, receptive language occurs before expressive language, this is often not the case for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Often, children with FAS use language they do not understand.

Building language *** Continued Expressive language is the third step. Usually, children learn oral (spoken) language first and then learn to express themselves in writing. This is one reason it is crucially important for caregivers to develop the childs vocabulary. The fewer words a child understand, the poorer she will be at writing (expressive) and reading (receptive). Children with emotional or hearing impairments, may find it easier to express themselves in writing rather than orally.

Assessing Language Clearly, you want to identify any language problems as early as possible to provide intervention. But how can you when the child does not even begin speaking until the third step? How can you identify language problems in a child who cannot talk? Fortunately for us, McCardle & Mele-McCarthy gave some very good suggestions. For example, Assessing inner language - observe the child. If she sorts blocks by color, then she has an inner knowledge of color. If the blue blocks are all in one pile, the yellow in another, and the red in a third, then she has an understand of red, yellow and blue even if she doesnt know the words yet.

More on Assessing Language Often, Native American children are not as talkative as their nonIndian peers. This is not necessarily a sign of special needs. How do you distinguish a cultural difference from a disability? RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE Ask the child to hand you a blue block. If he hands you the right color, he understood your words, even if he didnt answer you. This simple kind of assessment can be used daily to identify if the child understands such concepts as under, over, numbers from one to ten, etc. Hint: Try not to be so obvious that the child will be able to respond without understanding the language. For example, if you say, Put

the cookies on the table and you do this every day, she may do it without understanding your words. If you say, Put the cookies under the table, being sure to emphasize under, she must understand what you said to respond correctly. Also, children find unexpected things like putting the cookies under the table to be funny. Disabled or not, small children like to laugh. Teaching Language Now what? If you determine that the child does not understand such words as under, red, three - what do you do? Read the pages on the Early Childhood site on language development. Remember the dozen tips on teaching language?

Deliberately teach the child the words you have seen she doesnt know. Label objects. Use repetition. I see you are wearing your red shirt today. I like red. It is such a pretty color. Cultural Difference versus Disability Expressive language - does the child have difficulty copying letters from a blackboard or from on a sheet of paper? This may represent a problem with processing written language, it may mean the child had fine motor problems or it may mean the child has not had a lot of opportunities to draw, color or practice writing. Which is it? How do you know?

As a teacher, you can provide the child a lot of opportunities for printing, drawing and coloring. Do these activities with the child! Adult attention is very motivating for most young children. If, after substantial practice, the child still has difficulty copying letters, this is a concern. NOTE: For children with autism and similar disorders, adult attention may NOT be a motivating factor. Language Development: Summary Language Develops in Steps It is not very difficult to assess children at each step

It is important to avoid mistaking cultural differences for disability Early childhood staff are very important in helping children develop language Successful language development in early stages increases the chances of children becoming successful readers and writers in elementary school and beyond

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