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INTRODUCTION: TALK FOR LEARNING

Usually, children start learning to talk as soon as they are part of a conversation – that is, as soon as they arrive. Children’s first attempts to copy what they hear may be amusing approximations, often better than the original. Our smallest family member has introduced the word cupperty into the house vocabulary, and no doubt we will still be embarrassing her by ‘having a cupperty’ when she is quite grown up. This is one way words mutate and evolve. We learn to speak by hearing and using words. Children constantly try out words and creative combinations of words. So, most children can say a lot about themselves and the world they live in by the time they reach school. They can name and describe things, listen to others, assimilate and creatively use new vocabulary, and even switch between languages, all with astonishing facility. It appears that talk just comes naturally.