Children are born with the ability to learn speech and language, but they gain the skills of language by listening to, processing, and practicing the words of the language, or languages, around them.
All infants learn language in the same sequence. Although the timing may vary for different languages, the developmental sequence is the same. From the moment of birth, the neonate uses cries and facial expressions to express his needs. He can distinguish his mother’s voice from other voices and can discriminate among many different speech sounds (Berger, 2000).
How do theorists explain language development? Three major theories have informed our understanding of how language develops:
B. F. Skinner (1957) initiated the behaviorist theory of language development;
B. F. Skinner (1992) proposed that language is acquired through operant conditioning;
Noam Chomsky (1957) understood that even very young children take charge of learning language.
Some recent theoretical approaches interpret the same task a bit differently:
First, termed cooperative (Chapman, R.2000), is based on the fact that language is not acquired without socialization. Language cannot be acquired without a social context;
Second, (Berger, 2000; Berk, 2002), notes that infants and toddlers have an innate capability to learn language facilitated by adult caregivers;
Third, Vygotsky (1984), proposes that language is learned in a social context. Language is centered in the sociocultural history of a population. The child as a member of the group learns the language to communicate in his community.
We share D. Swingley’s opinion that speech and language development, like other development, follows fairly predictable stages. Children learn speech and language through their contact with others. Babies’ "coos" and "goos" will become babbling and sounds, followed by their first words and, as understanding increases, gradually lengthening sentences and conversations. Children should be able to talk by 2 and be understood by 3.(Swingley, D 2006)
The presented paper deals with the comparative analysis of formation of speech sounds in children from the earliest age of their throaty vowel sounds called "coos" up to the period when these sounds gradually disappear forever from their speech (by the age of 2-4 years).
The corpora for the research implies two languages (English and Georgian) with different lexis and structural frame and is completely based upon the experimental data observed in the process of study.
The comparative description of speech development in the groups under analysis has shown the following:
1) In both cases (English and Georgian), consonant sounds are generally acquired in front-to-back pattern so that, sounds made at the front of the mouth develop and can be used by the child before the sounds, that are made at the back of the mouth;
2) As in all walks of life, there are exceptions to every rule and this is no less true of the way in which children acquire speech sounds;
3) Between 1,6 - 2,6 years English speaking child may not consistently use any fricative sounds;
4) In Georgian infants of the same age, difficulties may be observed while producing some post-alveolar, velar and uvular sounds as well as plosives and fricatives;
5) Majority of English and Georgian children, by the age of five, undoubtedly consolidate the use of all the consonant sounds and it is not unusual that they may be fully capable of saying all the speech sounds an adult would use;
6) So-called ‘whirlies’(‘w’,’r’,’l’,‘y’) often continue to cause confusion for children. Even up to 6,5 years of age a child may have difficulty signaling differences between these sounds, e.g.
English: red is said as wed, lolly is said as yoyiy
Georgian: ratom ? ≠ latom ? ( Ratom ? ≠ Latom? ) (Why?)
In summary, the results strongly indicate that children are not only responsive to speech sounds and able to make fine discrimination but they also perceive speech sounds along the voicing continuum in a manner approximating, categorical perception, the manner in which adults perceive the same sounds.
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2. Speaking Ability and Possible Problems at Early Age, 2012(in Georgian)
3. Swingley,D(2006)The Roots of the Early Vocabulary in Infants’ Learning From Speech.
Association of Psychological Science , Volume 17
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5.Berger K. (2000) Characteristics of Language development, www.education.com
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Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 33–54.
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8. Skinner, B. F.(1992) Verbal behavior,www.amazom.com
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