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Play and Its Role in Language Development

  • By: Jennifer M. Zosh, Jessa Reed, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff & Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
  • In: Encyclopedia of Language Development
  • Edited by: Patricia J. Brooks & Vera Kempe
  • Subject:Language Development, Language & Communication

Play forms the foundation for language learning. From early childhood to old age, people use language to understand, communicate, negotiate, and actively participate in the world around them. Early language skills are also central to later academic achievement. How do people learn language, and how do they so quickly transition from babies with no language to preschoolers with thousands of words and a grammar? The rich literature from cognitive and social development suggests that one platform that supports this growth might come through child's play. Although each approached constructivism differently, intellectual giants like Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner shared a fundamental reliance on play as a context for learning. Indeed, Piaget went as far as stating, “Play is the answer to how anything new ...

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