8 FACTS ABOUT EARLY LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development is a continuous developmental process that begins in the first years of life. In fact, this development begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories.
Looking at early literacy development as a dynamic developmental process, we can see the connection (and meaning) between an infant mouthing a book, the book handling behavior of a two year old, and the page turning of a five year old. We can see that the first three years of exploring and playing with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words, and scribbling are truly the building blocks for language and literacy development.
Language, reading, and writing skills develop at the same time and are intimately linked.
Early literacy skills develop in real life settings through positive interactions with literacy materials and other people.
There are many developmental benefits to learning multiple languages at an early age, such as improved executive functioning skills—the ability to think flexibly, demonstrate self-control, focus attention, and tune out distractions.
There is still a lot of research to be done on childhood bilingualism. What we do know is that children can learn two or more languages during childhood without any problems. And that in fact, it is much easier to learn language in the early years.
A key variable for bilingual acquisition is consistency in how children are exposed to the two languages throughout their early childhood. You can choose to provide a consistency in a variety of ways.
Be aware that your child’s vocabulary in each language may be different from that of a monolingual child. Children learning two languages simultaneously may have smaller vocabularies in one or both languages, compared to children learning only one language. However, when both languages are taken into consideration, bilingual children tend to have the same number of words as monolinguals. Keep in mind that these differences are usually temporary. By the time most bilingual children have entered school, their vocabulary development has caught up with monolingual children.
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