chapter  3
Children constructing their understanding of written language
Pages 10

Children's creativity in speech development is well documented (Cruttenden 1979). While there may be a predisposition to acquire language (Chomsky 1972), environment obviously plays a substantial part in language acquisition as children pick up the language of those immediately around them. Children's universal 'babbling' takes on regional features of phoneme and intonation by approximately the age of six months (Nakazima 1975). By the time they go to school children have acquired the majority of the structures of their native language or languages. But en route they have communicated through the use of single words or short phrases. The word 'milk' can have a variety of meanings: 'I want some milk', 'the milk is on the floor', 'the cat is drinking milk' etc. At a later stage children pluralise nouns and construct verb endings in accordance with a pattern they have generalised from other words, so they might, for instance, say 'those mans wented'. Gradually, children acquire the phonological and syntactic features of the language of those with whom they live. Oral language learning happens as a result of hours and hours of using language in meaningful situations.