DaAs I move into my practicum one placement next semester, it is important for me to understand the roots of reading and writing for when I must teach them to students. Though I would prefer to teach a class between third and fifth grades, chances are great that as a first year teacher, I will end up accepting just about anything that is available from kindergarten to sixth grade. As such, a firm understanding in the universal stages of speech, reading, and writing is pivotal to my success as an educator. As such, I have already learned quite a bit, but I am ever learning more on how the initial stages of reading actually apply to verbal language acquisition as well. As children learn to talk, it is important to realize that speech acquisition comes in stages. Though we would love to imagine that we do, it is seldom the case that parents rarely teach their children oral language skills (Honig, 582). Instead they start out by exploring what noises they are capable of making (Owacki, 50). An infant starts out by making noises and exploring their ever expanding ability to make noise. Then as they grow a little older, they learn that their vocalizations can have an impact, be it for attention, fun, fear, or communication. As the child’s skill and comprehension increase, they begin to communicate by not random noises, but as single words. These single words may have different gestures and tones that are used for many different meanings. As they learn new words, they begin to connect them in the two-word stage. These mini-sentences can have large meanings, or small. They may only use two words, but they can contain a full sentence in them. For example, “doggy bark” means that the dog is barking, or the dog was barking, or that they want the dog to bark. After this, the children start the telegraphic phase of speech in which they are not using functional words such as articles and other grammar inducing words. After this stage, comes the later multi-word stage. At this point, the children are beginning to use more grammar and “complete” sentences. As students practice, they will become more fluent and their sentence structure and grammar become more accurate. While this occurs, children will commit many miscues in the process. One of the examples that was repeatedly brought up in class was “mommy goed.” While they have never heard an adult say this, most children will use this “mistake”, or miscue, when they talk. Mistake is in quotes because it is not a mistake, but instead an over extension of the information that they already know. The child knows that “ed” tends to make things past tense, such as played, walked, and traveled. They take this on to words like swimmed, swinged, and goed because they are simply over extending.
Recently I had the fortune to observe a fifteen month old boy named Willis. He is one of my coworkers children, and is really funny when you watch and listen to him. Willis is the younger of two children; his older sister is 8 years old. They live in a bilingual household. The mother speaks German as her first language, but is an exceedingly fluent English speaker. The father is an English first language learner and knows some German, but is not fluent. Willis’s older sister took a while to speak her first full words, but since then has become bilingual as well. At 15 months old, he is behind what one of our handouts says he should be able to say as he only has a few words in his repertoire; although he vocalizes very frequently. According to the Alaska Head Start State Collaboration Project, by 13 months, Willis should be able to “begin connecting syllables into words and learn that words have meaning by naming objects such as Mom, cup, toes and nose.” Between 12-18 months, Willis should be able to acquire a new word every 2 hours or so and use the same word to mean different things by changing his tone and using gestures. Based on my observations, Willis is in between the babbling and one-word...
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