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Language and communication skills are critical to a child’s development. Good communication makes them better able to engage in socialization and to learn from their environment and from formal classroom instruction. Phonology involves the rules about the structure and sequence of speech sounds. Semantics consists of vocabulary and how concepts are expressed through words.
The first, syntax, is the rules in which words are arranged into sentences. Pragmatics involves the rules for appropriate and effective communication. From birth on, children are programmed to develop speech and language. The first five years are most critical but language development continues throughout early childhood and on into adolescence.
During the first five years stimulation of language development is important as the brain is both developing new nerve cells as well as multiple connections between nerve cells to serve the function of language both expressive and receptive. In the early stages of language development, the brain is programmed to attend to speech sounds and begin to mimic them. Early on babies like to make sounds up on their own. Children usually say their first words between nine and 18 months old. What’s kind of interesting is no matter what language children are raised in, the first words usually reference either mother or father. By the age of 18 months a child usually has a vocabulary of 50 to 150 words. By two they can probably use over 300 words and understand about 1,000 words.
Around 3 years of age, children begin to use language for all kinds of things. They are not only trying to get things by asking they are talking about past experiences and even beginning to use it to pretend. There language is becoming more like that of adults. In elementary school children continue to expand their use of oral language but are also learning to read a write. As children progress through middle school and high school they continue to expand their vocabulary and refining their grammatical skills and write in more complexities as well as continue to develop reading comprehension skills.