It takes two (or more) to talk
It takes two to talk – or more – and a baby's progress in talking is directly related to how
much and how rich his language environment and experience is.
Sadly, children who have been deprived of human interaction miss out forever on learning to communicate normally.
The true story of the Jungle Boy is much sadder than the fictional one: he never learned to communicate normally with other humans.
There have been many other documented cases like this. For example, a tragic case where two children had been kept locked up and without care and human contact tragically points up how necessary human interaction is to enable a child to learn to talk - they never learned to communicate normally.
So – the lady who asked me the other day, to come and play and talk with her baby in
English, has absolutely the right idea, - her little one will so much benefit from the
opportunity she gives him to learn more than one language – and he may even develop the
genuine English accent she wants him to have in future.
From Peekaboo games, to tickling and Round and round the garden, and looking at books,
and stroking a cat or watching birds – it is so much fun developing a baby's communication!
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind so you are consciously encouraging well-rounded
interactions and talking:
1 Listening games: games where you hide a squeaky toy, or blow a whistle that the
baby cannot see, and get him to find it. (Where? Is a good question for a baby to learn to
understand early on)
2 Watching things. A baby of about 15 months may drive you crazy, playing with
something, dropping it, and waiting for you to pick it up – and then does it all over again! He
has just started learning about object permanence, as Piaget, a Psychologist who studied
infant behaviour, documented. This can be a great game: name the thing he drops, holding
it up to your face and getting him to look at you as you say it, before giving it back to him, to
drop yet again…. Patience is the name of this game!
3 Tasting different foods. A toddler is very much checking out things in his mouth,
and this is a time to be talking with him about what he is eating, giving him vocabulary like
tasty, sweet, yucky, hot, cold.
4 Name things: let him feel them, talk about them: big, small, cuddly, hard, Give
him names of colours and shapes.
Some years ago, a study indicated that children need to hear a new word at least 200 times before in different contexts, before they start to use it themselves. More recently, doubt has been thrown upon the exact number of times a new word needs to be heard – perhaps because there is a wide difference in how different children perform in vocabulary acquisition. Even thinking of my own experience as an adult, I am aware that I often hear a new word in many contexts, before I start to become actively aware of it and finally bring it into my own vocabulary.
5. Encourage your child to talk out loud about what is going on. You do it for him: 'Oh what am I doing? I put my left shoe on my right foot!' - it might sound silly to you, but it is something that encourages a child to internalise his language. It has been found that children who talk to themselves develop language and communication skills faster than those who don't.
I cannot say it often enough - the best way to encourage your child to talk well is to enjoy talking with him or her - and listen to the responses!
Best wishes -
Here are a couple of lovely examples of how a baby talks with Mum or Dad - there's lots of listening as well as talking - and such lovely responses from baby!
If you would like a giggle and see how these twins love talking with each other - watch these videos: