chapter  4
7 Pages

Four learning spirals explained

Young babies and toddlers are developing the key skills that underpin their later language learning. These skills involve looking, focusing listening, attending and concentrating for longer and longer periods. Long before a baby can speak, they begin to develop an understanding of how communication works. They need to build their store of knowledge in their early years to support their progress in all areas of talk. Understanding can be supported through gesture and signing. Spoken language begins with sounds. Babies begin to experiment with sounds and we call that babbling. Words begin to emerge and a growing vocabulary that the child can understand and then learn to speak. Concepts are more difficult to grasp and need to be experienced with concrete examples that they can watch alongside the words that describe them. Examples of early concepts are on, off, more, in, out, big, little, whereas the concept of under comes later. Language is then developed further by the older child into longer phrases and early sentences. If babies are ‘saturated’ with the experience of hearing language, as long as they don’t have any specific difficulties they can learn the names for things and then concepts, and then come to understand and use them. These are the spirals of language learning that we support in this book.