Language is extremely complex
Language is extremely complex. Children acquire language in similar stages across the world. The process of language acquisition has a number of features which have intrigued researchers for over a hundred years. To my way of thinking in the following lines I will be providing the main stages of language acquisition and the differences between each stage.
“One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.”
— Chinese Proverb
Stages of Language Acquisition
There are four main stages for any language acquisition:-
– The babbling stage
– The Holophrastic or one-word stage
– The two-word stage
– The Telegraphic stage
These are the main stages to acquire a language. However some studies and documents mentioned that these stages can be broken down even more into smaller and sub stages.
In a way, I will express and provide main points throughout each and every major stage and come up with the outlines of the four major stage of language acquisition.
The First stage: “Babbling”
Within a few weeks/ months of being born the baby begins to identify and remember most of the voices in his/her surrounding area. This phase is called (pre-production, prelinguistic, or pre-speech).
This phase occurs between birth – 4 months. Including some gestures, eye contact, sound repartee between baby and caregiver.
Such as pre-speech words:
(dada –mamaah – haa and etc…)
And this leads to the babbling stage typical age within this period is 6 – 8 months. During 5/6 – 8 months period does the baby begin to identify vocals. The sounds babies produce in the babbling stage are universal. It’s just intonation attempt to speak out.
It’s considered as it’s the first attempts at creating and experimenting with sounds and words.
Eventually, intonated babble and repeated sequences may produce long strings of syllables having varied stress and intonation patterns.
Holophrastic: “one – word stage”
The second stage of language acquisition is the holophrastic or one word stage. It takes place between approximately 11 months of age and 1.5 years of age.
This stage is distinguished by one word sentences. Represent and produce a small number of isolated, single words and many sounds.
All sounds are considered at this stage to have meanings, also to convey emotions.
This one-word stage, children tend to associate from one single word to mumble whole statement. An example of this holophrastic use for the word “water”. By only using the word “water” the child might mean a lot of things such as:
– I want to drink water now.
– I spilled water on the floor.
– Where is my flask?
Another example when a baby shouts out of cry or say “mama”, the baby seeks to draw attention.
They use single words like: (cookies, bed, dad and etc…) not functional but they are on the right track to grasp the language properties.
Essentially, at this stage children are on their way to improve their syntax and semantic skills.
The third stage: Two-Word Stage
The Idea of Syntax is the next milestone in a child’s acquisition of language. After a few months of producing one-word utterances, a child will start to make use of two word utterances and carry on to do so until they are around the age of 2.5 years old.
The two word stage is made of up mainly two word sentences.
To start with just putting two words next to another (each has its own intonation) gradually, the two words form a simple sentence. Actually word-order expresses semantic roles by this point.
Virtually the two-word utterance stage there is no function words, syntactic or morphological markers yet.
For example “mommy ball” for the sentence can be used to show a (subject + object), the two words can explain or describe a number of different grammatical relation. These sentences contain 2 words forming the idea of syntax.
The two-word sentence was uttered in a way of communication. Back to the example: “mommy ball” the relation in this situation perhaps when the mother is playing with the ball with her child, or a possessive relation when the child is pointing to Mommy’s ball.
The fourth stage: Telegraphic Stage
The final stage of language acquisition is the telegraphic stage. This level is titled as it is because it’s almost to what is seen in a telegram. This phase is containing just enough information for the sentence to make sense.
The telegraphic stage is the last stage of language before a child can speak out fluently and set offs nearly around 2.5 years of age.
Moreover, whilst this stage, children show the signs of how to have a much better awareness of syntax and semantics.
This stage includes from three to five word sentences. To illustrate during this stage the child seem to grasp the communications between words. For instances of sentences in the telegraphic stage are:
– “Daddy drink milk”
– “What his name?”
– “She is playing with her doll.”
During this stage children often expand their lexicon of vocabulary from 50 words to up to 13,000 words. At the end of this stage children grasp the concept of some linguistics properties such as understanding of plurals and how plurals are formed as well as to incorporate plurals. Some simple prepositions (in, on, at, by, next etc) and gradually learnt after this how to join words and attempts to get a grip on tenses.
Definitely, Children in the telegraphic stage are still lacking function words and morphemes and still having some struggles such as: how to use sentences and sentence meaning.
The pattern of leaving out most grammatical/functional morphemes is called “telegraphic”, and so people also sometimes refer to the early multi-word stage as the “telegraphic stage”.
Furthermore, this stage can also tilted as “Fine tuning”
Where there is more usage of vocabulary, elaborating syntax skills, learning nearly 10-30 new words per day, building vocabulary and refining grammar take place.
Gradually by reaching this phase will lead to “later multi-word stage” when children are 30+ months. This is a total development level. Complex structure distinctions, grammatical and functional emerge.
All in all, this stage usually called cognitive academic language proficiency is set for people who have enthusiasm for improving the language skills for years (usually 4 to 10). This is as close to native fluency as you can probably get and this will be reflected in every and each aspect of language skill shown from the way you speak to the way you think to the way you frame ideas and concepts.
To some extent, learners are more comfortable constructing complex sentences during their regular speaking and writing activities.