Factors That Influence Language Development

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The process of language development is different for every child with many factors affecting language development in childhood. There are arguments that support language development being a matter of environment, genetics, social interactions or cognitive processes. Perceptual and conceptual skills are also factors that can directly influence language development. Whether these factors are controlled by nurture or nature, they all can be influences in a child's language development.

1 Social Factors Affecting Language Development

A child’s social environment directly affects his language development. Interaction with children is crucial in developing social and language skills. Parental involvement in language and literacy development translates to not only speak to the child but also in maintaining conversation when the child is present. In addition to income, television also affects language development. A home environment centered around watching television, language and verbal expressions reduces the need for talking. When talking and conversations are decreased in the home and surroundings, language development may decrease as well.

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2 Cognitive Language Processes

The way each language learner processes words cognitively also affects how their own language develops. Developmental delays related to hearing disorders or overall intellectual processing can have a large impact on language development. How often a child hears parents and other relatives speaking affects their cognitive processes in learning language. Studies have shown that children exposed to an unusually high proportion of examples of a language form may learn at a faster rate than those with lower language exposure.

3 Developing Linguistic Abilities

A child’s linguistic ability directly influences language development. In formulating their own vocabulary, it is not uncommon for a child to associate a new word with a current object he does not have a label or word to associate with it yet. It is also common that verb endings, such as –ing, develop in way that infers a meaning to your toddler. It is common a child will infer that this "meaning" is related to an activity like swimming, playing or running. This process of inferring rather than a completed stage or state is an important part of language development.

4 Conceptual and Perceptual Language Development

Conceptual language skills are often harder to develop because they are also related to word knowledge. If a language learner has difficulty recalling a word, it is often likely they will also know less about the object itself. In perceptual terms, a child’s auditory perceptual skills at 6 to 12 months is a predictor of their vocabulary size and syntactic complexity at 23 months. Making sure that conversations and language development take place in those initial six months to a year are important to language development. Conceptual and perceptual language become crucial to future language and literacy development as well.

Sandra Romo has written education- and family-related articles since 2005. Romo is a professor of journalism and public relations at California Baptist University. She also owns Innovative Intellects, an educational consulting and curriculum development company.