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The Language Gap

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Mastering language is an important milestone in human development. When language is developed, the world opens up and a person is able to communicate their needs and interact in a meaningful way. Psychologist Lev Vygotsky even believes language is the most important tool we have in learning. Our basic learning skills are taught to us through an "informal education system consisting of parents, other grown-ups, peers and even the media" (Sigelman, C. & Rider, E., 2009, pg. 277). Formal education then takes over, teaching the language skills necessary to read, write and problem solve. Both formal and informal education play a large part in development and when one of these is compromised language development can suffer.

Infancy and early childhood are an important time in language development. Infants are unable to say meaningful words in the first 10 to 13 months of their lives, however this does not mean they are doing nothing these months. Infants are using this time to listen to the speech that is going on around them, absorbing these words and sounds for use at a later point in their development. According to research infants are able to distinguish between phonemes, or the building blocks of words. These are sounds like b, p, and t. Infants also display evidence that they understand word segmentation, and understand a sentence is not one long word, but a string of several words put together. They are also sensitive to the intonation of language as well. This is the variations in pitch, speed and loudness used when we talk, so "before they ever speak a word, infants are…sensitive to the fact that speech falls between clauses, phrases, and words rather than in the middle of these important language units" (Sigel...

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...o find time to interact with their children if they are having to work all day to support their family. A solution to this problem might be to provide financial support to these parents so one of them would be able to work a part-time job. This would give these parents more time to interact with their children, with out devastating their finances. When the children are able to enter pre-school programs then the assistance could end and the parent could return to full time employment.

Informal and formal education, are important parts of a child's language development. Often, the children of underprivileged families experience deficiencies in their informal education, putting them behind their privileged peers when they enter kindergarten. This is why support programs and programs to educate underprivileged mothers and their children are so important.
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