Children and their Language

It’s quite interesting that after anguished crying and babbling stage in the beginning, children gradually learn their language and become able to gain competency. There are several studies conducted to investigate how children learn their languages. Though several language theories related to the first language acquisition, such as Behavioral, Nativist and Functional, have been developed, a complete and confirmed theory has not yet been claimed.

Chomsky (1965) claimed the brain is not just a blank slate (tabula rasa) that is waiting to be filled and that it already possesses some highly complex structures that is operational as we get mixed up and interact with our linguistic environment. As proposed by Chomsky, there is, in our brain, a device called LAD (Language Acquisition Device), which is optimally operational and it allows children to acquire language easily and fast.

In the beginning, children listen to their environmental stimuli i.e. languages spoken around them, and gradually, they try to speak the utterances they have already heard during their silent period. Some children who are intelligent and have good auditorial skills learn their language fast while some others do not learn so easily.

Theorists claim that children constantly form hypotheses on the basis of the input they receive, and then they test those hypotheses in their speech. As their language develops, those hypotheses are continually revised and used in speech correctly after making some changes. Children, saying

“Mummy milk” in the beginning, learn to utter “Mummy milk me” “Mummy, I want milk” gradually.

Studies claim that it depends on a child’s individual construction of linguistic understanding and reality in interaction with their environment. Parental speech and speech of older siblings affect children’s acquiring their language. Children are good imitators, and imitation is one of the important strategies a child uses in the acquisition of the first language. Their fluency or fastness depends on how much they they practice. I mean the frequency that they hear and produce the same words, phrases or sentences in acquisition of the language also plays a vital role. Thus children’s individual capacity, their environment and input, imitation and practice become some of their “secrets” that enable them to acquire a language seemingly efficiently.


About Raj Khatri

In addition to providing mentoring services to pre-service ESL/EFL instructors, I have always enjoyed for over 15 years facilitating both adult and K-12 ESL and EAP classes that include international, immigrant and refugee students in a variety of settings across North America and South Asia. The opportunity to work as a TESL Practicum Supervisor at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Victoria has further helped me share with and learn from colleagues and enhance my knowledge and expertise in the field.  I had served as an ESL Instructor III at the University of Regina for two years and a half before joining Camosun College as an ELD Instructor in the fall of 2014. I always appreciate the opportunity I was provided with to facilitate EAP, ESL, LBS and LINC classes in various capacities, including Professor at Centennial College, Instructor at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Seneca College, and Centennial College in Toronto, and Lecturer at Padma Kanya Multiple Campus (Tribhuvan University affiliated) and Teacher at GEMS in Kathmandu. Awarded the University of Victoria Fellowship (2014) and the Geoffrey & Alix O'Grady Scholarship in Linguistics for Academic Excellence, I am currently working with Dr. Huang on my doctoral studies in linguistics, with a major focus of research in applied linguistics, while still continuing to facilitate EAP classes and supervise TESL practicum students in BC. Before I completed my Special Education program with Honors at Queen’s University in Ontario and got certified to teach in the K-12 public education system as an Ontario College teacher (OCT), as well as to teach adult ESL classes as a TESL Ontario accredited instructor in 2009, I had worked with Dr. Haulman and earned my second Master’s degree in TESL at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I had received the President’s Honor Roll for four consecutive semesters and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I was deeply honored when Brad Henry, then Governor of the State of Oklahoma in the United States, recognized my public input about college safety and public education in 2007 and 2008. Holding the belief that it is important to give back to the community, I have always been engaged in voluntary activities, both in professional and community-related areas and have been enjoying working with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. My voluntary services extend from providing support to schools and school libraries and in Nepal to facilitating ESL/EAP classrooms at various settings, including at the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Regina Public Schools and supporting voluntary organizations that include the Regina Food Bank, the Salvation Army (Regina), the Regina Green Patch, and Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society in various capacities. I have been an accredited member of TESL Canada (Professional Standard III Permanent, since 2009), and Ontario College of Teachers (OCT; since 2010), and I hold Saskatchewan Professional 'A' Certificate. As well, as a member, I have been participating in professional development activities at TESOL and BC TEAL since 2007 and 2013 respectively. My areas of research interests are second language reading strategies, second language writing, intercultural communication and classroom practices, and adult ELLs with disabilities. Thank you for visiting! Happy Exploring!
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