Nurturing Natural Language Acquisition in Children

Written by Laura Ryan


Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist
B.Sc, B.Sp.Path, C.P.S.P

Some of the most exciting moments of parenting are when you witness your child’s language develop.

Most of us have heard of typical language development, where children move from babbling to forming sentences, but did you know that there is another way that children can learn language?

Welcome to the world of gestalt language processors!

Gestalt language processors (or GLPs) are those who learn by understanding language as a whole, rather than simply as individual words.

Their style of language learning is called ‘natural language acquisition’, as opposed to ‘typical language acquisition’.

Spotting GLP tendencies in your child

Your child might process language in this more holistic, ‘natural’ way if they:

  • repeat common phrases, or copy what they hear others say
  • commonly use phrases they hear in songs, or other speech that has a melody
  • use only single words to communicate beyond the age of two
  • use long strings of words that are difficult to understand.

How to foster natural language acquisition

  • Create a language-rich environment by reading to your child regularly, engaging in conversations, and exposing them to diverse vocabulary. 
  • Encourage storytelling and imaginative play where your child can explore language creatively. 
  • Pay attention to their interests, and incorporate language learning into activities your child enjoys, such as cooking, gardening, or exploring nature.
  • Embrace their curiosity and encourage questions, sparking discussions that stimulate their thinking and language skills. 
  • Be patient and supportive, understanding that language acquisition is a gradual process that varies from child to child.

By recognising and nurturing your child’s tendencies with language, you can empower your children to communicate effectively no matter their learning style.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s language development, contact Box Hill Speech Pathology clinic on (03) 9899 5494 to see one of our expert speech pathologists.

References

Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press.

Oller, D. K., & Eilers, R. E. (2002). Language and Literacy in Bilingual Children. Multilingual Matters.

Hoff, E. (2009). Language Development. Cengage Learning.

Pinker, S. (1994). The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. Harper Perennial.

Nippold, M. A. (2019). Language Development across the Lifespan. Plural Publishing.

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