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How Language Shapes How Children Think
We often think of language as a way to express ourselves. Whether it’s in a written or spoken manner, using language has allowed us to communicate, connect, share and express our thoughts and feelings.
However, language actually goes beyond about expressing our thoughts. It’s also about shaping how we think as various research shows that language may influence thought (source) and that people who speak different languages think differently (source). The power of words can never be underestimated indeed.
How language shapes how children think
Languages have helped shaped societies and civilisations for thousands of years. For example, with the invention and use of written language, our ancestors were able to record transactions and transmit immense volumes of information. In fact, writing emerged from accounting and writing was only used for that purpose until the third millennium BC. Since then, the use of writing has gone beyond accounting and into arts and literature. Today, we use writing and language to express and process our thoughts as well as learn various concepts. And for us to take on formal schooling and integrate ourselves into the outside world, we need to first focus on language learning and expand our vocabularies.
Our children go through the exact same journey. Right now they’re just starting to build their vocabulary and trying to make sense of what happens around them. It’s both an overwhelming and exciting experience for them. In addition, this is a crucial development period for them because in their early years this is when their core brain architecture is being built. In other words, if you give your child an early advantage you also help him/her get ready for formal schooling and beyond. You give your child a jumpstart which could carry on for the rest of his/her life.
One way to give that jumpstart is by focusing first on his/her language and communication skills. Aside from helping him/her better process information through better vocabulary, good language and communication skills can also help your child with his/her social interactions. This makes playtime and learning sessions a lot more fun, productive and engaging. And yes, your child can better communicate with you about what he/she wants and what happened in his/her day.
It’s just a start because this is a lifelong journey. But with a jumpstart in language learning, you help your child unlock his/her full potential, clarify and express his/her thinking and gain early advantages. Just as language has been crucial to the development of societies and civilisations, language is also crucial to your child’s rapid development.