How children learn to speak – SWR2















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Milestones in language acquisition – babbling from birth

Studies show that babies can distinguish their mother’s voice from another before birth and are also sensitive to the rhythm and melody of the mother tongue. At about five months, infants recognize recurring sound sequences and intonations. Soon after, they begin to understand the meaning of words they often hear. They experiment with their voice from the very first scream – and chatter.



The baby’s babble seems to practice articulation: what happens when I put my mouth in a certain position? These early stages of language acquisition are language independent,


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imago pictures / Panthermedia


Babler seems to practice articulation: what happens when I put my mouth in a certain position? According to Barbara Höhle, these early stages are language independent. She is a professor of linguistic linguistics at the University of Potsdam and, together with her team, has studied how children who learn German respond to tones that are not important in German but are in a language like Mandarin. According to Höhle, the chatter in the second half of the first year of life becomes more and more similar to the target language. At the age of nine months, children know which sounds – vowels, consonants and combinations of sounds – occur in their language.

First word at the age of one year

The first word is usually “mother” or “father”. This is obvious because children see mom and dad very often and often hear the words from them. In addition, the syllables “ma” and “pa” are very easy to form and are already present in the babbling phase. And the kids love words that contain repetitions. Researchers have been able to show that the language center in the brain responds much more strongly to such words. This makes “mom” and “dad” perfect candidates for the first word.

Up to 18 months: acquisition of vocabulary through vocabulary sprint

In the phase of one-word utterances, the child expands his vocabulary. First, it happens slowly, they can about 50 words. But then the acquisition of vocabulary accelerates to the point of “vocabulary sprint”, says Barbara Höhle. It starts when the children are 16 to 18 months old.

Developmental psychologist Steffi Sachse says that not all children are the same. They learn the words quite evenly; a “vocabulary explosion” does not set in with them at all.

Since development can take different courses, it does not make sense to specify what a child should be able to do and at what age.

First full sentences from the age of two

The children can now combine words and produce their first multi-word utterances: Build a tower. In the next phase of language learning, between two and four years, the stories children tell become more understandable. Because then the children use the verb in the right form and form whole sentences. The children have now mastered most forms; however, there may still be problems with irregular verbs.



A baby builds a tower the mother looks at.  In the phase of one-word utterances, the child expands his vocabulary.  From around the age of two, children can combine words and produce their first multi-word utterances: Build a tower.  (Photo: Colourbox)

In the phase of one-word utterances, the child expands his vocabulary. From around the age of two, children can combine words and produce their first multi-word utterances: Build a tower.


Colourbox



Milestone from the age of three: forms subordinate joints

For linguist Barbara Höhle, when a child can form adverbs, it is a sign that it has mastered the basic acquisition of grammar. Being able to form child clauses such as if-so-sentences is another milestone in language acquisition.

How does humor develop in children?

1,900 words – vocabulary after five years

At the age of five, children know and can use about 1,900 words.

SWR 2020

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