The Development and Importance of Language and Speech Skills

Language is a system that is used as a means of communication and has basic units such as sounds, signs (symbols) and words (Baykoç, 1986: 90). Language is a means of agreement and basically provides communication between people. However, language is not only a means of communication, but also becomes the transmission itself and opens the universe to people (Poyraz, 1995: 11). Language is a behavior that takes the child away from his ego, makes him a social person, can control and follow himself, teach his thoughts, feelings and behaviors gradually, and helps him feel safe. The study of language development constitutes the most exciting and intense study of contemporary child psychology research. Because the development of the child’s language skills takes place at an incredible speed. Almost all children in all cultures say their first words at around 12-18 months, on average. By the age of four, most of them can use well-organized sentences, sometimes even expressing their thoughts in sentences that are surprisingly complex. The building blocks of language are words. But every word is made up of primitive sounds of the language called phonemes. Every child learns to make these sounds first. For example, it makes the “b” and “m” sounds first. The development of language ability follows a regular sequence. Language development studies conducted on children have revealed that almost all children in the world basically use the same grammatical rules when speaking is first learned (Yavuzer, 1998: 46). Language is a tool that we use in expressing and learning thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, value judgments, and transferring information about events that are seen, perceived and experienced, and cultural accumulation. All these reveal how important language is in the cognitive and social development of the child. As the transfer of social structure and culture is largely based on language, language development and cognitive development progress in mutual interaction in areas such as concept formation, thinking, establishing relationships, and problem solving. Language is a very important factor in a child’s learning. For this reason, the language development of the child should be given importance at pre-school ages and it is necessary to create environments and conditions that support language development. Considering that the 113 periods between the ages of 2-6 are the most intense years of language development, the importance of pre-school child development programs becomes more evident (Fişek and Yıldırım, 1983: 44). The development of language is closely related to maturation to a certain extent, as well as to learning.

A harmonious and sufficient cooperation is needed between many organs of the body in order for the language to be activated, that is, to be translated into oral or written expression. The development of language is manifested by the person’s ability to do these five things.

These;

a) To be strong enough to make the sounds of meaningful words,

b) To be able to make associations between things, situations and the meanings they express,

c) To know the meaning of the words formed and to be able to use them appropriately,

d) Being able to know and use the suffixes added to the words,

e) to be able to construct sentences in accordance with the desired expressions.

Speech is learned by children after birth in time and as a result of interaction with the environment, through methods such as trial and error and imitation (Yavuz, 1991: 68-69). There are also parallels between language development and motor development. The age when the child’s first words come out of his mouth coincides with the age when he can sit without help. The child’s early development in sentence formation also depends on emotional elements such as the love and affection he receives from his elders (Arthur, 1979: 480). In speech, mental preparation comes after motor preparation. Readiness to speak is most common in children aged 12-18 months. This period is called the ‘teachable phase’ (Yavuzer, 1998: 99). Language development is, in a way, the development of the mind. Because language cannot develop until mental abilities such as perception, memory and imagination develop and work properly. For this reason, the years when intelligence develops are the years when language develops (Binbaşıoğlu, 1995: 134). The first years are of great importance in language development. Language mistakes made at this age cannot be easily corrected in later ages. The baby’s 3rd year is the age when both the speech organs mature, the influences from the environment are “optimal” (optimal) and the basic communication skills are well established. Half of the sentence structures used by many kindergarten-age children meet the adult criteria. (Binbaşıoğlu, 1995: 129).

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