Children learn to talk through interaction including involvement in many thousands of conversations with adults and other children. These conversations provide the framework for exploring relationships, understanding the world, and learning - in its widest sense. This book explores how children learn to communicate using language, how they use language to learn and the role of adults in the process. It examines how adults can support children to learn by involving them in positive interactions, meaningful conversation and by helping them play, explore and talk with each other. The book includes: examples of children and adults talking and learning together case studies of successful approaches that support language and learning in early years settings points for reflection and practical tasks Informed by the author's own experience working with young children, families and practitioners, and from his involvement in the England-wide Every Child a Talker (ECaT) project, it links key research findings with successful practice to inspire practitioners to develop skills when talking with children, influence how adults plan for talk in settings and gain insight into how language develops in the home.

How and why do children learn to talk?

How and why do children learn to talk?

How and why do children learn to talk?

This chapter will

  • Give a brief overview of the main theories on how and why children develop language
  • Introduce a perspective that places interaction and conversation between children and adults at the heart of communication, language development and learning in early years

Example 1.1 Amy and the combine harvester

Amy was seven years old when she decided that she was going to learn French, and now has a degree in French Language and Literature. It all began while she was on holiday in France with her parents and four-year-old brother, Ben. The very first French word she wanted to learn was ‘moissonneuse-batteuse’ (combine harvester). This was the largest thing she could see ...

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