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Language promotion among children

You can still hear your child’s first words echoing in your ears. The moment when its initial sounds and babble suddenly became words and speech is something very special. And, above all else, an important step in your child’s language development.

Words are extraordinarily important. Language is a powerful tool, and one which – once learnt – carries us through life. It is therefore all the more important to monitor your child’s language development closely and stimulate it as required.

This is because speech impediments can creep in quickly. But don’t worry. As a parent, there are many things you can do to stimulate your child’s speech and accelerate language development. But how does a child’s language develop? What does language promotion mean? And how do language games affect development?

Read on to find out the answers to all of these questions and what you can do to support your child’s language acquisition and development.

What does language promotion actually mean?

Language promotion is, by definition, the promotion of language in order to bring children up to the level of their contemporaries. Which means that language promotion is intended to balance out linguistic deficits during a child’s development. Apart from language games and providing support at home, a good option for supporting the development of a child’s speech can be access to a speech therapist. They work with groups or individuals to practice the pronunciation of difficult words. In particular words containing “s”, “l” or “m” compared to “n” can prove to be a linguistic challenge for children. The sessions involve fun ways of learning the differences between sounds and language games or simple exercises can encourage children to speak clearly.

When is language promotion used?

Language promotion should be brought into play if a child develops a speech impediment or is lagging behind in its language development. As a rule, a lag of six months behind its contemporaries is used as a benchmark for identifying a disruption to a child’s language development. Not achieving certain linguistic milestones can be a sign that language promotion would be advisable for your child.

This can mean, e.g. that its speech is not distinct, its vocabulary not well-developed, or that certain words are pronounced incorrectly. Language promotion is by nature a very personal matter and should be used where the major problems lie. Perhaps your child swallows individual letters when speaking? Or certain words pose specific problems, such as those containing “s” sounds.

Here are some possible indications that your child’s language development could require some help:

  • Does your child find it difficult to produce certain sounds or construct particular words correctly? This could indicate an articulation disorder.
  • Does your child have difficulty forming full sentences or does it have a vocabulary that is smaller than typical for its age? Does your child also have problems understanding some terms and their meanings? This could be an indication of a disorder of speech development.
  • Does your child repeat a certain word within a sentence? Or does its speech sound disjointed? Perhaps it suffers from a fluency disorder.
  • Other signs of a disorder of speech development could be: starting to speak late, having a vocabulary of less than 50 words at two years old, stuttering or a generally poor understanding of the meaning of words.

If you feel that one or more of these points apply to your child, language promotion could be a good idea to positively influence your child’s development and language.

Seeking external help so that your child can learn how to use language normally is a good thing, and not something to be ashamed of. Granted, ‘disorder of speech development’ initially sounds dramatic. But don’t worry, it affects every eighth child in Germany. And boys are three times more likely to be affected than girls. It is not a bad thing, per se, and very seldom has anything to do with education. Targeted promotion, such as language games and access to a speech therapist, can easily nip this problem in the bud.
Nowadays it is therefore completely normal to seek help to support your child’s language development.
A useful point to note is that access to a speech therapist and subsequent language promotion therapy is usually covered by statutory health insurance.

Language promotion at home: how can I support my child’s language development?

Speaking comes naturally to us. When we want something, we ask for it and nothing can stop us. But for your child, speaking and language are uncharted territory – and a great deal of work. It is therefore all the more important that you make language development as interesting as possible for your child. Play and fun make learning how to speak easier for small children in particular.

A key factor for the language development of children is the environment. If everyone around your child mumbles or speaks in dialect, this will naturally have an effect on its language development. The solution is as simple as it is obvious: speak clearly. If a child’s parents speak clearly and take time when speaking, it is far easier for a child to learn how to speak. As a parent, you can do an awful lot to help with your child’s language development. And it starts with the small things. Playing together, reading aloud, singing and speaking all contribute greatly to language acquisition. This is how your child learns the meaning of individual words and explores our language in a playful manner. Language games and suitable toys in particular are effective means of stimulating your child’s speech. Such games or toys simplify the process of learning words and meanings for children and break down inhibitions when speaking. One good idea for creative language development is our Toddys. The Mix & Match principle makes it possible to combine the jolly characters with new vehicles time and again, and therefore offers completely new options for play and language. For example, when jolly Betty and her car Blinky meet with Freddy and his cool vehicle Fluxy, they can be combined to create Betty Fluxy Blinky.

What are good language games for playing at home?

A particular advantage of playing language games is that they often require little preparation. A bit of research on the internet is sure to produce some great ideas for language games.

Supporting normal language development: acting-as-if games

One simple language game is the simulation of an everyday situation, which can be used to help your child practice its language and help them internalise the meaning of words.

Going shopping or making a telephone call are good examples of such a language game. You could also give your child a remote control or telephone to hold in its hand while you “call” it, or go through the food available in the kitchen. Speak very clearly and ask your child how it is, for example. Give it a choice of answers, such as sad, happy or angry. Mime each of the respective emotions. When “going shopping” you could ask your child what it wants to eat, and have it show you. Or you could point at various foods and ask it how it feels about, say, red cabbage or an apple.

This makes learning the meaning of the respective words easier. This language game can be very entertaining, or it can be extended to include various objects that your child has around them. You can talk about them during the “telephone conversation” and point at the various objects as you name them in order to develop your child’s vocabulary.

Covert language games: memory games

Turning a memory game into a language game is a very canny idea. It’s an ideal way of combining language promotion and memory training! A nice game to play is the classic “I packed my bag …”. One player lists what they have packed in their bag, then the next player repeats this and adds a word. The first words are often given hesitantly, but then the game picks up and it can even prove to be a bit of a challenge for parents!

The trick is to specifically select a word to remember and repeat that your child finds difficult. This will help it to practice this word without realising. Each round you can add an extra word and your child will repeat the list diligently – word for word.

To help your child develop its sentence construction you can start a story retelling game. Start a simple story and have your child retell it in its own words. Ensure that the story is as interesting or funny as possible for your child so that it doesn’t lose interest in the game. Be creative and open, and your child is sure to join in.

In conclusion: How important is language promotion for my child?

Language promotion is always important. But it is especially important when you feel that your child is lagging behind other children in terms of its language development. In order to ensure that your child receives the help that it perhaps needs, visiting a speech therapist is highly recommended if a there are signs of a speech impediment. They will use their professional training and special educational exercises to teach your child and promote speech comprehension.

You can also support your child in its language development at home, e.g. by playing language games that involve developing its active vocabulary. However, in addition to playing games, speaking clearly is important in order to counteract speech impediments. After all, your child’s main source is the spoken language it hears around it every day. So, always speak clearly – but above all, speak with your child a lot, as this is an easy way of improving its language skills.

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