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Talk, talk, talk...

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Why it is so important to linguistically include your child in your everyday life from a very early age.


Don't give up

I can still remember very well when my daughter was only a few months old and I was talking to her in long monologues. She looked at me with big eyes and often only a short but affirmative "dada" came. In such situations, I very often wondered if I might not overwhelm my daughter with an additional language. Everything would be much easier if she adopted the language of her environment, which most children do. The monologues then continued for a long time until she was about 16 months old. But then suddenly her spoken vocabulary was no longer limited to just a few syllables or even words, but just gushed out of her. And then I realised that she had heard that from me, absorbed it very well and could repeat it back easily from one day to the next.



What you need to take into account


For this reason, the most important principle is to talk to your child as much as possible. The linguistic stimulation that comes from the child's environment is an important influencing factor during language acquisition. Only if the child frequently comes into contact with the language can he or she acquire it. There is no output without input.


There are three aspects to take into account, in particular:


1. The feelings that you express, consciously or unconsciously, during each conversation with your child have a decisive influence on their linguistic development. It is important to show that you enjoy spending time with your child and exchanging ideas and to show interest in what the child says. The best way to do this is to create a situation in which both feel comfortable. A pleasant environment awakens the need for communication and a child's joy of speaking, because the most important framework conditions are not only the will and need to speak, but also the child's joy of speaking.

2. The quantity of linguistic stimuli that the child receives from his or her environment also significantly influences the rhythm of his or her language development. That's why it's so important to talk to your child as much as possible. Whether it's while cooking, tidying up, getting dressed, playing games, driving the car or bathing – it doesn't matter which banal everyday activity you are currently engaged in; it is best to involve the child as much as possible in the language. Everyone knows the situation: you're tired, you want to get something done quickly, or you're simply lost in thought. For a child's language acquisition, however, it is fundamental that he or she hear the language frequently. Only then will he or she have the opportunity to learn the appropriate vocabulary for all these situations.

3. One's manner of speaking also has a significant influence on the child's speech quality. When talking to your child, try to make sure that he or she looks directly at you when talking. Only then can it take in the organs of speech and the associated facial expressions and gestures. The use of baby language such as "bow-wow" for a dog, or diminutive words like "doggy" or "twosies" should also be avoided as much as possible. Even if it feels easier to use such expressions in that initial moment, it is important to offer the child the opportunity to learn the language correctly from the beginning. For, otherwise, the child is provided with language patterns that do not exist in the adult language. Of course, this does not mean that you should make your sentences very complex. Comfortably adapt your sentence structure to the age and development of your child so that you do not overwhelm him or her.


Source:

Triarchi-Herrmann, Vanessa. Mehrsprachige Erziehung. Wie Sie Ihr Kind fördern (2006, 2. Aufl.), S. 100-103.

Cathomas, Rico und Carigiet, Werner. Top-Chance Mehrsprachigkeit. Zwei- und mehrsprachige Erziehung in Familie und Schule (2008, 1. Aufl.), S. 52.

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