From their first language development milestone, many young children begin talking easily. This leads parents and caregivers to believe that their job is done fostering language and vocabulary development in the home. This is not true, and exactly why teachers should engage in language-rich interactions with their students.
Language development is a crucial part of children’s’ overall physical and mental development as they grow. It helps them build strong communication skills they can use at home, in the classroom, and in the future. A child that can communicate more easily can also express her emotions and wishes more clearly and better connect with the world around her.
For example, toddler language development starts in infancy. As a toddler begins to explore his environment and expand his curiosity, he starts adding words, forming new connections between objects and words, and building his vocabulary.
Interactions with parents, caregivers, and teachers provide children the opportunity to experience language development. Researchers have found that children who encounter language-rich environments at home and in the early childhood classroom hear more than 20 million more words by the age of three, compared to children that are not exposed to language interactions.
Dr. Renate Zangl’s Raising a Talker is an insightful resource for teachers seeking ways to include language-rich activities and interactions in their classroom. Highlighting the obvious benefits of fostering language development in young learners, Dr. Zangl encourages teachers to integrate increasingly advanced vocabulary in every day classroom activities.
As Dr. Zangl would attest, don’t be afraid to push your students’ language development! Introducing challenging vocabulary provides them with a positive challenge that builds a strong language foundation they will continue to use.