Learning Happens Through Imitation?
It is a general belief that children
learn to talk through imitation. This is true to a certain extent. But then we
also come across situations where we are stumped by a certain statement or
reaction of a child that comes out of the blue. We are sure that they are not
imitating anything as they have not witnessed anything like it before. It is a
spontaneous reaction for a novel situation. So learning through imitation is
not the complete explanation to describe a child’s learning process.
Observers also opine that children do
indeed learn to talk through imitation, but this is not by imitating every word
in the sentence that they happen to hear around them. They learn by taking note
of some important aspects like the verb, the noun or the article. These
basically act as structural basis for their sentences when they are trying to
express themselves. They fit in words that they like to or feelings that they
wish to convey and try to express them verbally. This way they learn to talk.
Experts say that this belief is also true but again partially.
How Does Speech Develop?
Things become clearer if you try to
notice the manner of development of the child as he learns to talk. There is a
whole lot of communication going around the child and the child is particularly
observant towards them. He is an intent listener
and certain words or expressions that are of interest to them get registered in
If you study the developmental stages of
the child and compare them with that of other children of his age, you will
notice that they are more or less at par with each other. Their sense of
communication and the manner in which their minds mature are similar at the
same age group.
The surprising part in this study is
that this pattern of development of expression or the way in which they are
gradually learning to speak
are the same regardless of the fact whether the child grows up in the company
of other children or grows up alone in a completely adult environment.
So How Does this Actually Happen?
As said earlier, children are very aware
of the communication that is taking place around them. They try their best
sense to make sense of the communication and the various components of that
communication. It is a trial and error method that can be best described to
explain the manner
in which a child learns to speak. As they listen, they register and then use
those words, letters or expressions in which ever form they find them
convenient to use to speak.
There is also a system of rules that
they construct within themselves. This should be misunderstood as a conscious
system. This is something that is more of a reaction of their minds that makes
them produce sentences that are similar to those that they have heard.
Association is the Rule
There is a pattern to this rule and the
manner in which they learn to speak. This is association. They try to associate
the objects they try to speak about to the real ones. They try to comprehend
the contextual part. This is why you will find your child pulling your apron in
the kitchen and say “mummy milk.” You will certainly not find him saying this
when you are working in the garage or tending your plants. He has learnt the
association of food with kitchen and then related the two and expressed
Children learn speaking by using words
that are enough to convey what they want to say. They do not understand the
need to use adverbs or prepositions to make a complete subject-predicate
sentence. This is why most of your child’s early sentences will have two to
three words that are a noun and a verb or a noun and an adjective. The
uniformity in order comes as the child finds that he is indeed able to say what
he intends to convey.