Children learn language best at play

Language acquisition best happens in a play context where children learn the social function of language.

Children's speaking and listening skills are enhanced in requesting, negotiating, reasoning and explaining their play intentions to others (Repetition, memorising standard processes of learning language by Mr Syed Alwi Altahir; Sept 13).

Pre-schoolers learn a language when teachers expand and extend what children say by rephrasing and modelling correct grammatical structure. Engaging in parallel talk by describing what the child is doing at play is another way to model language usage in a meaningful context.

Language acquisition is a complex process. It requires extensive ongoing, interesting dialogue, fun and enjoyment, and an understanding of language patterns that goes beyond repetitive drilling and memorisation.

Consistent and regular reading aloud to children helps in developing their vocabulary. Children enjoy learning new challenging words and using them in conversations.

Language acquisition ... requires extensive ongoing, interesting dialogue, fun and enjoyment, and an understanding of language patterns that goes beyond repetitive drilling and memorisation.

Adults need to demonstrate patient listening as well as exchange information, opinions and experiences in social conversations with young children.

In other words, there is really no such thing as standard procedure in language learning because every child is unique.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Children learn language best at play'. Print Edition | Subscribe