Help Your Kids Learn To Speak

Help Your Kids Learn To Speak
BabyTalkThe ability to learn a spoken language without formal training is one of the most astonishing (and defining) human characteristics. That doesn’t mean you can’t help the process along a little with your kids.

Picture by seandreilinger

Our sibling publication Babble has a useful roundup of the latest research on how parents can help their kids with language acquisition. The big conclusion? Bombarding your kids with sophisticated vocabulary isn’t useful:

The most important lesson from the newest science is this: the central role of the parent is not to push massive amounts of language into the baby’s ears. Rather, the central role of the parent is to notice what’s coming from the baby, and to respond accordingly.

Hit the post for the full range of suggestions, then tell us: what tactics worked (or failed) for you when helping your kids? Let’s hear ’em in the comments.

Jump Start Language Skills [Babble]


  • The first-born kid is usually slower to pick up language skills than their younger siblings.

    That might seem like an obvious statement, but there’s a point to it: Any kids born thereafter have the advantage of picking up communication skills from their older brother/sister (as well as the parents) as they’ll more than likely be spending a lot of time with each other. The eldest, however, will only have the parents to learn from.

    I grew up in a home where English was not the first language, so my first year of school was also the first year I learnt English properly. You can imagine the ramifications for any kid in this situation — it’s like starting from the very bottom when teachers expect you to be on a level comparable with your fellow students. Being the eldest of three, my siblings fared much better. My parents got the hint when my brother was born and kept on saying, “Speak English to each other!” (they didn’t say THAT in English, ironically enough). By the time my sister (the youngest) was born, my brother and I were predominantly speaking in English, so she was exposed to that from Day 1. When she started school, she was on on a level playing field with her classmates, and light years ahead of where I was at her age. She could even hold her own with sophisticated swearing jokes.

    Moral of the story: Every kid that you have after the first will have an easier time learning language skills than the kid born before it.

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