Child Language. Children's Speech Sounds: What's Normal? Read and translate the text. Make sure you understand every word

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Child Language

Language is a code that we learn to use in order to communicate  ideas and express our wants and needs. Reading, writing, gesturing, and speaking are all forms of language.

Language is made up of a series of rules for:

l  creating words or signs from smaller units like sounds, letters, or body movements;

modifying the meaning of root words (e. g., girl + -s = girls, walk  + -ed = walked, teach + -er = teacher, quick + -ly = quickly, dis- + obey = disobey);

l  combining words together (the grammar of the language);

attaching meanings to words;

l  holding a conversation; telling a story; and using different forms of language for different listeners, purposes, and situations.

What Is Speech?

Speech is a spoken form of language. Children learn language and speech by listening to the language around them and practicing what they hear. In this way, they figure out the rules of the language code. It is not learned all at once but in stages over time.

The parents can help a child learn to talk by talking and reading, and encouraging the child to communicate. But it is essential that speech should not be demanded.

There are expected language behaviours for different ages. For example, by 1 year of age, a child should use one or two words, follow simple requests (Come here), and understand simple questions (Where is your shoe?). By 2-3 years of age, the child should be using two or three word sentences to talk about and ask for things and following two requests (Get the ball and put it on the table).

Children are individuals and do develop at slower or faster rates than expected. What is most important is that the child shows continuous language growth.

Children's Speech Sounds: What's Normal?

Talking doesn't just happen. Children have to learn speech gradually. Some sounds like p, b, m, t, d, and n are usually mastered by age three while others like r, l, th, and s may not be correct until the early school-age years.

While learning to speak, all children make mistakes and pronounce some sounds incorrectly. Although these are common errors and will probably disappear as a child gets older, they might also be signs of articulation disorders. Simply stated, an articulation disorder exists when a child consistently makes speech sound errors that are not usually made by children of the same age.

Sometimes articulation disorders are caused by physical problems like a cleft palate or cerebral palsy. However, for many articulation problems, no physical factors are found. The errors are due to an unknown disturbance in the normal process of learning speech sounds. Distinguishing between simple mispronunciations and articulation disorders can be difficult. If a parent feels a child might have an articulation problem, s/he should make an appointment for evaluation by a speech-language pathologist.

Essential Vocabulary

gesturing — using hand and finger moves for communication

to be made up of — to consist of, to include

to modify (Past Simplemodified) — to make slight, small changes in

to attach to — to give so as to label (about word meaning)

expected language behaviour — a presupposed level of using words and sentences (at a certain age)

to follow simple request — to obey two or three-word asking for something

at a rate — at a speed

continuous language growth — mastering language without breaks

to master — to learn to use

to be signs of — to serve as evidence for

to be caused by — Passive from to cause — to be the reason for

cleft palate — a defect in the roof of the mouth where two sides of the palate failed to join together

cerebral palsy — paralysis resulting from brain damage before or at birth, involving muscle spasms and involuntary movements

mispronunciation — improper or wrong pronouncing sounds or words

speech-language pathologist — a specialist who studies abnormal changes in speech and articulation


1.  Read and translate the text. Make sure you understand every word.

2.  Write out the irregular verbs. Revise their three forms, learn them by heart.

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