Creating the right situations for a child to learn to speak is one of the basic concerns and objectives of many parents, especially if they are newcomers.
This is normal, given that language is one of the basic psychological skills; thanks to it, the children can create abstract concepts logically articulated among themselves, so that they begin to have a relatively realistic understanding of nature, society and themselves. Without language, intelligence is not developed.
While as parents and guardians we cannot guarantee that a child will learn to speak perfectly well in 100% of cases, it is usually possible to create the right conditions for them to internalize the skills needed to do so and practice them. In order to know how to teach a child to speak , it is necessary to adapt to his or her way of thinking, but it is also clear that we have limited power to influence this way of thinking.
How do I teach my child to speak?
Below are some key ideas for doing everything possible to generate effective language learning in our children. However, we must take into account that each case is unique and the conditions in which each child grows up are also unique .
On the other hand, whatever happens, we cannot blame the children if we perceive that they do not advance at the desired pace. In extreme cases, it is even possible that this slowing down is due to neurological disorders, so that learning can only serve to avoid further delay. However, these are exceptional cases.
1. Make them the protagonists
Forget about the format of the master classes in which the apprentice keeps quiet and listens and the master speaks by transmitting the information that the other must internalize and memorize. Language is something that develops in contexts of real interaction, and therefore, in order to teach children to speak, these dynamics must be generated, even if it means resorting to fictional characters that talk about them and tell stories.
In practice, this means that we should not just expose our children to language. You have to make them participate in it, both by listening and by saying things . Thus, by helping them to speak to us, even if it is interrupting, we will make them feel more and more motivated to use language to understand the world and the interesting stories it involves.
2. Don’t describe, narrate
In order to capture the interest of the children about an aspect of reality that they are going to know through language, it is much better to do it through stories and narratives than through descriptions. These narratives attract more attention , because they have a beginning, a middle and an end, and promise the resolution of a situation, while the descriptions refer to static realities that, although they can also be instructive, have less power when it comes to claiming the children’s interest.
3. Use words you use in your everyday life
Centuries of formal education have caused some parents to adopt an overly formal mentality in teaching their children to speak, as if it were a traditional school set up at home. But in the early stages of childhood, learning must take the form of play. One that entails certain challenges, but a game at the end of the day, based on situations of real interaction with real people (regardless of whether these embody characters that are not).
That is why you have to use concepts and references that the child uses in his or her day-to-day life. For example, if he likes animals, make them the protagonists of a story that we use to make them feel appealed by a story in which they can participate by asking questions and questioning the protagonists.
4. Do not set abstract goals
When asked “how do I teach my child to talk”, some parents err on the side of reasoning that is proper for adults, not for children. In such early stages of childhood development, there are certain milestones in language acquisition that are commonplace, but it is not good to be too rigid about them. In the first months and years of life, it is complicated for children to understand what is happening in terms of a learning process and the expectations that this generates in their families .
Therefore, we must stimulate them with concrete situations, but we must not speak to them arguing in abstract terms referring to goals that go beyond the here and now . For example, asking them to increase their vocabulary by looking at the words that adults use is not recommended, nor should you ask them to learn to use the conjugations of the verbs. Doing so would create frustrating situations.
If you ask from time to time about the conclusions drawn from what has been explained, you create a mechanism for the children to put the five senses into the situation of interaction through language. This makes it easier for them to learn more in less time. Moreover, in this way you help them not only to listen, but also to speak .
6. Congratulations on the progress
Another way to get our children to learn to speak is to show signs of joy in the face of progress. In the very early stages of childhood this already works by the simple fact of creating sounds associated with positive emotions, and when a sophisticated conception of the world and of one’s self has begun to develop, it reinforces self-esteem and favours involvement in learning.