By Betsy Metzger
“In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker” (Benjamin Franklin).
Language development begins from as early as within the womb, we seem “born to talk” (Gunning, 2003, pg 2). Evidence that a fetus recognizes, listens for, and finds comfort in its mother’s voice is seen soon after birth when an infant will strain to gaze in the direction of his mother’s unique sound over all others; having become accustomed to her mother’s voice while in the womb, the infant finds comfort in her personalized prosody. Correlations between the unique sound, vibrations, lilt, and patterns of the mother’s speech to signs of lowered stress levels in monitored infants are telling: indicating our propensity for, and our ability to influence, the development of what is to be the most amazing and significant mode of communication for most humans: language. Our desire to communicate is evident as we witness infants learning to manipulate their environment through trial and error as they attempt to communicate their desires to those around them. Efforts are seen in the vocal realm as an infants sounds vary from soft coos to piercing cries according to their needs, as well as through body language as they wriggle, kick, or smile. The processes that influence children’s language and speech development into a tool for social and educational interaction begin before birth. Significant for language development is the critical time for from birth to three years, where the quantity and quality of the language surrounding us determines our social and education linguistic abilities and to a great degree our success in social and educational environments. Our primary caretakers during those first three years, often ones’ parents, with whom we most often interact, influence our language development, either positively or negatively. A child exposed to a positive environment with a high rate of verbal interaction
References: Gunning, T. (2005). Creating Literacy Instruction for All Children. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Benjamin Franklin quote accessed September 30, 2007 @ Benjamin Franklin Alice Walker quote accessed September 16, 2007 @ http://www.corsinet.com/braincandy/qmother.html Plutarch quote accessed September 23, 2007 @ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plutarch.html, also linked here: Plutarch This paper is and remains the original material of Betsy Metzger and may not be reprinted or sold without the author’s explicit permission. Students are welcome to use the paper for reference as long as they observe proper referencing etiquette. A note to the author indicating the use of this article as a reference is requested.