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There is no definite sequence on how a child can acquire language. But since
the birth of child psychology many had developed theories or did researches that led
to some relevant information on how we as children acquire language. As the studies
were compiled and revised, it eventually formed a framework basis for the study of
Language Development.

History of Language Development
1. Traditionally, language development depends upon the principle of
reinforcement. It means a psychological concept based on the idea that the
consequences of an action will influence future behaviour.
B.F. Skinners Operant Conditioning
Also called operant learning, the general idea of learning is:
Rewarding a behaviour / reinforcement teaches the subject that the
behaviour is desired, and encourages the subject to repeat it (increases
behaviour), and
Punishing a behaviour / punishment teaches the subject that the
behaviour is not desired, and should not be repeated (decreases
2. Some learning theorists believed that language is acquired by imitation. It is
an advanced behaviour whereby an individual observes and replicates
another's behaviour. It is also a form of social learning that leads to the
development of traditions and ultimately our culture (Wikipedia, 2013)
3. Noam Chomsky proposed that language is learned based on the Nativist
Theory of Language Acquisition.
The Nativist Explanation: Children are born with a specific innate ability to
discover for themselves the underlying rules of a language system on the
basis of the samples of a natural language they are exposed to.
Chomsky believes that language development is primarily a matter of
maturation and that that environment is of little significance. Language is
innate, an aspects of childrens genetic foundation (Owens, 2006).
4. Modern theorists cling that language is learned through interaction. They say
that children are biologically ready for language but they require extensive
experience with spoken language for ample development. Acquiring language
is always an active and interactive. This involves formulating, testing, and
evaluating languages rule.
Interactionist Theory explains that language development is both
biological and social. They argue that language learning is influenced by the
strong desire of children to communicate with others. According to this

theory, children are born with a powerful brain that matures slowly and
predisposes them to acquire new understandings that they are motivated to
share with others.
One of the modern theorists is Jerome Bruner. He stresses that
parents and other caregivers have critical role in the language acquisition
process. He also proposes the use of Language Acquisition Support System
(LASS). This refers to the importance of a childs social support network, which
works in conjunction with innate mechanisms to encourage or suppress
language development (by interacting and encouraging the child to respond).
Another modern theorist is Lev Vygotsky. He proposes collaborative
learning. This learning explains that conversations with older people can
help children both cognitively and linguistically.

Antecedents of Language Development
Here are the following devises that make up the antecedents.
1. PSUEDODIALOGUES is one of the early training devices
characterized by the give and take of the conversation between
the child and the mother or other person. Adults maintain the flow
of conversation.
2. PROTODECLARATIVES is when the child uses gestures to make a
description about the statement.
3. PROTOIMPERATIVES is when the child still uses gestures but these
gestures are used to let someone do for him. Make statements
about the things and let someone do it for him.

How does a bilingual child acquire language? And how do learning two
languages affect the childs language development?
Bilingualism is the persons ability to speak or write fluently in two languages.
Bilingualism is distinguished into two (Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994):
1. Productive Bilingualism- Speaker can produce and understand both
2. Receptive Bilingualism- Speaker can understand both languages but have
more limited production abilities.

Developing Bilingualism
According to Fierro-Cobas and Chan (Fierro-Cobas & Chan, 2001), language
development is a complex, dynamic process influenced by the childs age, language
exposure, and social interaction. A bilingual child generally follows one of the two
language acquisition patterns: simultaneous bilingualism, in which the child acquires
two languages at the same time before the age 3 years, and sequential bilingualism, in
which the child acquires a second language by age 3 having acquired the primary

Pre-schoolers may differ qualitatively from school-age children in their ability
to develop a second language. For older children and adult, acquiring a second
language is a conscious rather than subconscious process; more appropriately
learned language learning rather than language acquisition.
For example, Filipinos are not a native speaker of Spanish, and for them to
learn the language, they enrol to one of the language institutions that offers courses
for speaking and writing.

Two Major Patterns in Bilingual Language Acquisition
1. Simultaneous Bilingualism
Children go through two stages to simultaneously learn two
Stage 1: Children mix or blend words or part of words from both
languages. Example: Gusto ko hat.
Stage 2: Child can distinguish the two languages, and can use each
language separately. Example. I want hat. and Gusto ko ng
2. Sequential Bilingualism
Fierro-Cobas and Chan (Fierro-Cobas & Chan, 2001) explained that the
process of developing a second language before age 3 is slightly different
from a process of developing the first language. The reasons are:
1. A sequential bilingual child can draw on knowledge and experience
with the first language.
2. Whether and for how long a child passes through several phases in
sequential language acquisition process depends on his
temperament and motivation.
3. The relative exposure to second language compared with the first
language can affect how a child develops the second language.

Emergent Literacy is the concept used to explain childs reading and
writing skills before he can actually read and write. It was first introduced by
Marie Clay, a New Zealand researcher in 1966. Emergent literacy plays a vital
role in early education as it prepares the child learning skills before formal
introduction in school. It was said in many researches that the progress of
childs development can be influenced by social interactions with parents or
adults (e.g. playing and talking), exposure to learning materials (e.g. books,
crayons), and the use of engaged learning materials (reading alphabets and
counting numbers using charts).

These are the foundations that will help childs literacy development
(Wikipedia, 2013):

1. Letter Knowledge- understanding each letter is unique; it has name
and sound, and recognizing letters everywhere.
2. Vocabulary Development- knowing the name of things
3. Narrative Skills- being able to describe things, events, and tell
simple stories.
4. Print Motivation- being interested in and enjoying books.
5. Print Awareness- noticing various forms of prints, knowing how to
handle a book, and knowing to follow words across page.
6. Phonological Awareness- being able to hear and play with the
smaller sounds in words.

Parents can promote early literacy development for infants by (Dostal
& Hanley, 2011):
Introducing books or reading materials with eye-catching pictures.
1. Reading books that have rhymes, rhythm and repetition like those
words found in nursery songs.
2. Pointing out words in childs surrounding and explaining the
meaning of the words (e.g. tree, it has green leaves on its branches
and it has big trunk.)

Parents can promote early literacy development for toddlers and pre-
schoolers by (Dostal & Hanley, 2011):
1. Filling the childs environment with books, magazines, toys, or
things that are useful in his learning development.
2. Reading short stories that has one character and has basic plot.
3. Answering to childs inquiry on things he senses on his
4. Supporting childs writing development by making sure that papers
and crayons are available. Ensure these things will not harm the

Many educations believe that both learning to read and learning to speak
begins at the same time. Playing, talking to children, reading stories, and singing are
some of the activities that will facilitate the development of reading and speaking.
Reading development in early childhood can be divided into three stages:
emergent, early, and accomplished. Each stage of development is identified by
childrens growing knowledge and skills, and each stage requires different teaching
strategies (University, n.d.).
1. Emergent Readers
Children at this stage of development have these behaviors and knowledge:
Enjoy listening to books and enjoy repeated readings of favorite stories
Retell simple narratives

Begin to understand that it is the print that carries the message
Attempt to read independently, sometimes relying on their memories, the
illustrations, and their background experiences to reread the story
Begin to understand directionality that is, the left-to-right and top-to-
bottom orientation of print
Identify signs and labels in their environment (environmental print)
Begin to understand that words are made of sounds (phonemic
Identify some letters and know some letter-sound matches (phonetic awareness)
Begin to match spoken words and written ones
Recognizes some words by sight (sight words)
Teachers working with children at this stage of reading development can:
Read and reread books to children, including big books
Talk about letters and their sounds in the context of the reading
Provide an environment rich with literacy materials and experiences
Play language games
Help children break spoken words into individual sounds
Blend individual sounds into whole words
Provide literacy experiences as part of childrens play activities
Provide, use, and point out environmental print within the classroom
Model one-to-one match by pointing to words while reading
Use language experience by taking childrens dictation and helping
children read the resulting text
2. Early Reader
Children at this stage of development have these behaviors and knowledge:
Use letter-sound correspondence knowledge to sound out unknown
words when reading
Use a variety of strategies, such as rereading, predicting, and using
context when comprehension breaks down
Recognizes common, irregularly spelled words by sight (have, said, where)
Identify and increasing number of sight words
Self-correct when an error does not fit with letter or context cues
Teachers working with children at this stage of reading development can:
Read daily to children from a range of different types of texts (fiction,
nonfiction, poetry)
Model a variety of strategies for identifying unknown words
Provide practice for identifying unknown words in meaningful texts
Give children opportunities for independent reading
Introduce new words in the context of meaningful reading
Demonstrate and model a variety of strategies to use when
comprehension breaks down
Choose texts carefully to match childrens abilities, needs, and interests

Provide opportunities and real reasons for children to read orally
3. Accomplished Reader
Children at this stage of development have these behaviors and knowledge:
Read with greater fluency
Use strategies (rereading, questioning) when comprehension breaks
Use word-identification strategies with greater efficiency to identify
unknown words
Accurately read many irregularly spelled words
Uses roots, prefixes, and suffixes to infer meaning
Spend time reading daily
Use reading to research topics of interest
Interpret information from graphs and charts
Teachers working with children at this stage of reading development can:
Read daily to children from a wide range of different types of texts
Provide experiences for children to notice patterns in roots, prefixes, and
Provide opportunities for independent reading from a range of different
types of texts
Childs reading development varies from one another. It is important for
parents and teachers to determine the childs capacity and provide the necessary
and appropriate learning methods to properly facilitate their development.

Dr. Jeanne Chall developed model of the stages of reading development.
According to his model, a learner should acquire the characteristics and should
master the skills required in each stage, and the lack of these can halt the progress of
a learner beyond that level.

Table 1: Challs Stages of Reading Development
Stage Age / Grade Characteristics and
Masteries by End of Stage
How are these Acquired?
Stage 0- Pre-reading
pseudo reading
6 months 6 years /
Child pretends to read,
retell story when looking
at pages of book
previously read to him,
names letters of alphabet;
recognizes some signs;
prints own name; plays
with books, pencils and
Being read to by an adult (or
older child) who responds to
and warmly appreciates the
childs interest in books and
reading; being provided with
books, paper, blocks, and
letters. Dialogic reading.
Stage 1: Initial 6-7 years old / 1
grade Child learns relation Direct instruction in letter-sound

Reading and
and beginning 2nd between letters and
sounds and between
printed and spoken words;
child is able to read simple
text containing high
frequency words and
phonically regular words;
uses skill and insight to
sound out new one
syllable words.
relations (phonics) and practice
in their use. Reading of simple
stories using words with phonic
elements taught and words of
high frequency. Being read to
on a level above what a child
can read independently to
develop more advanced
language patters, vocabulary
and concepts.
Stage 2:
Confirmation and
7-8 years old / 2
Child reads simple, familiar
stories and selections with
increasing fluency. This is
done by consolidating the
basic decoding elements
context in the reading of
familiar stories and
Direct instruction in advanced
decoding skills; wide reading
(instruction and independent
levels) of familiar, interesting
materials that help promote
fluent Reading. Being read to at
levels above their own
independent reading level to
develop language, vocabulary
and concepts.
Stage 3: Reading for
Learning the New

Phase A

Phase B

9-13 years old / 4


Intermediate 4

Junior High School 7

Reading is used to learn
new ideas, to gain new
knowledge, to experience
new feelings, to learn new
attitudes, generally from
one viewpoint.
Reading and study of textbooks,
reference works, trade books,
newspapers, and magazines
that contain new ideas and
values, unfamiliar vocabulary
and syntax; systematic study of
words and reacting to the text
through discussion, answering
questions, writing, etc. Reading
of increasingly more complex
Stage 4: Multiple
15-17 years old / 10

Reading widely from a
broad range of complex
materials, both expository
and narrative, with a
variety of viewpoints.
Wide reading and study of the
physical, biological and social
science and the humanities, high
quality and popular literature,
newspaper, and magazines;
systematic study words and
word parts.
Stage 5:
Construction and
18+ years old / College
and beyond
Reading is used for ones
own needs and purposes
(professional and
personal); reading serves
integrate ones knowledge
with that of the others, to
synthesize it and to create
new knowledge. It is rapid
and efficient.
Wide reading of ever more
difficult materials, reading
beyond ones immediate needs;
writing papers, tests, essays,
and other forms that call for
integration of varied knowledge
and points of voice.
Source: Chall, J. S., 1983. Stages of Reading Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

1. Early Language Stimulation

Parent and caregiver can help the development of child's
communication through natural and everyday activities. These activities are
playing and talking to the child.
In fact, most of the messages we convey are done through non-verbal
means such as body gestures, facial expressions, body language, eye-contact
and touch.

Early Language Stimulation Activities:
Playing with sounds or take turns making sounds with your infant or
Make the same sound your infant or toddler or a sound that is like your
infant or toddlers sound.
Make sounds of familiar animals and objects.
Talk about food or things in the environment to stimulate the childs
Read books or any reading material together with your child.
Playing helps to develop the overall development of the child.

Factors affecting Early Language Stimulation:
Inadequate stimulation receives by the child like parents are seldom
talking to their child, or lack of opportunity for the parents to play with
their child.
Insufficient learning materials that will help enhance childs reading and
writing ability.
Childs exposure to too many languages (both parents can talk using two
different languages).
Factors like anxiety, pressure and behavioural problems.
2. Literate Communities and Environment
The literacy-rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking,
reading, and writing in learning development. This involves the selection of
materials that will facilitate language and literacy opportunities; reflection and
thought regarding classroom design, and intentional instruction and
facilitation by teachers and staff.

The Purpose of Literacy-Rich Environments
1. Allow learners with disabilities explore the elements of literacy.
2. The literacy-rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking,
reading, and writing in the learning of all students.
3. It able to create both independent and direct activities to enhance
understanding of concept of print and word, linguistic and phonemic
awareness, and vocabulary development.

Factors affecting Literacy-Rich Communities or Environment:

Lack of written materials like books, newspapers, and magazines.
No access to information and communication technology like phones and
No access to broadcast media like TVs and radios.
Poor quality teaching and curriculum provided in school.
Lacks of social interaction and communication.
Language development can also be affected by socio-economic condition
of the family.

3. Story Reading
Story reading plays a vital role childs literacy and language development.
The books he reads, and the characters he gets to know can become like their
companion. It is good for children to understand that books are a useful
source of knowledge. Reading also builds childs self-confidence, helps to
cope with his feelings and stimulate the development of language and


Aphasia is a communication disorder that can make a person hard to read,
write, or say what he wants to say, and this is caused by dysfunction in a specific
region of the brain that controls language.

Causes of Aphasia (WebMD, n.d.)
1. Stroke or brain injury that damage a part of the brain region that deals with
2. Brain tumor or brain infection
3. Dementia such as Alzheimers Disease
4. Epilepsy or other neurological disorder

Types of Aphasia (WebMD, n.d.)
1. Expressive Aphasia- the person knows what he wants to says but he has a
hard time expressing it to others.
2. Receptive Aphasia- the person can read the book or can hear a voice but may
not get meaning of the message.
3. Anomic Aphasia- the person is struggling to find the right word in expressing
his ideas through speaking and writing.
4. Global Aphasia- the person is unable to read and write, or he has difficulty in
speaking and comprehending.
5. Primary Progressive Aphasia- the person slowly loses his ability to talk, to
read, to write, or to understand what he hears in a conversation during a
period of time.

Main Symptoms of Aphasia (WebMD, n.d.)
1. Trouble speaking
2. Struggling with finding the appropriate word
3. Using strange and inappropriate words in conversation

Dyslexia is a learning problem that makes a person hard to read, write, and
spell. It occurs because brain jumbles or mixes up letters or words. Children with this
condition often have poor memory of spoken and written words. (WebMD, n.d.)

Causes of Dyslexia (WebMD, n.d.)
1. Genetic Disorder that is transmitted from parents to children.

Symptoms of Dyslexia (WebMD, n.d.)
Signs of dyslexia in children who are too young for school:
1. Talking later than expected
2. Being slow to learn new words
3. Problem rhyming
4. Problems following directions that have many steps

Signs of dyslexia in children who are studying:
1. Problems reading single words, such as a word on a flash card
2. Problems linking letters with sounds
3. Confusing small words, such as at and to
4. Reversing the shapes of written letters such as d for b and p for q
5. Writing words backward, such as tip for pit and pot for top.

Works Cited
Bialystok, E. & Hakuta, K., 1994. In Other Words: the Science and Psychology of Second Language
Acquisition. New York: Harper Collins.
Chall, J. S., 1983. Stages of Reading Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Dostal, J. & Hanley, S., 2011. Learning About Literary. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 14 August 2013].
Fierro-Cobas, V. & Chan, E., 2001. Language Development in Bilingual Children: A Primer for
Pediatricians. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 12 August 2013].

Gines, A. C. et al., 1998. Developmental Psychology: A Textbook for College Students in
Pschology and Teacher Education. Manila: Rex Bookstore, Inc..
Owens, K. B., 2006. Child and Adolescent Development: An Integrated Approach. Singapore:
Thomson - Wadsworth.
University, S. I., n.d. Literacy Development. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 14 August 2013].
WebMD, n.d. Aphasia and Dyslexia. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2013 August 15 2013].
Wikipedia, 2013. Emergent Literacies. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 14 August 2013].
Wikipedia, 2013. Imitation. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 August 2013].
Zulueta, F. M. & Malaya, E. M., 2012. Historical, Anthropological, Philosophical, Legal,
Psychological, Sociological Foundations of Education. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore.