The whole book of Sigelman and Rider is dedicated to various development processes that take part in the human body and mind, and Chapter 10 concerns particularly the mechanisms of language perception and development in the early age of the child. There are many processes that the authors deal with while describing the language acquisition procedure and some of them raise particular interest because of their significance in the child development process and the overall scale of human development. For example, two approaches to the formation of the ability to understand and to imitate language with the upcoming ability to learn a particular language is a very significant issue that is still the subject of agile debates between proponents of different hypotheses.
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The matter is that nowadays there are three main approaches to identifying the way by which language is learned by children: it is the naturalistic approach arguing that all people have the in-born Language Acquisition Device (LED) that enables all of them to learn the language spoken around them, i.e. the language of their parents (Sigelman and Rider, 2008). This approach is the subject of the nativist perspective of studying language learning and development.
The second approach has acquired the name of a learning perspective; it argues that children learn a language through imitation of their parents and people surrounding them due to their extensive susceptibility to outer actions and expressions and the intense interest in the world that surrounds them. So, proponents of this perspective think that the social environment is the decisive factor that shapes the child’s command of the language, while the role of people surrounding him or her, mainly parents, as correctors and instructors, is the toolbox for learning the language (Sigelman and Rider, 2008).
The third perspective is the interactionist one, stating that both learning and nature have a great influence on the child in the process of language acquisition, and the main task of the science is to understand how they are combined to let the child learn a language effectively. Thus, the defenders of this perspective reject the unique possibilities of LAD and insist that the ability to acquire language is a natural ability that is still interconnected with other biological and social processes, becoming a complex and multi-dimensional concept (Sigelman and Rider, 2008).
The significance of the present debate as well as finding the right answer to the question of what factor plays the main role in the formation of the child’s ability to speak cannot be overestimated. The clue to the secret of language acquisition both from the physical and psychological point of view will open boundless opportunities for directing and enhancing the learning abilities of average children or even learning children with disabilities and disorders to speak. As soon as the origin of the speaking mechanism is investigated and its constituents are known, it will be much easier to understand the nature of speaking disorders and help children who cannot learn the language for some reason. Total understanding of speaking mechanisms will become a breakthrough in pedagogy, enabling teachers to assess the progress of their pupils in more precise terms and to identify pitfalls that have to be paid more attention to in the process of learning.
As one can see from the information above, this finding will help create a conceptually innovative framework for teaching speaking and identifying speaking disorders at early stages, as well as finding efficient ways for their treatment and correction. All children have their capabilities for learning; they start learning a language at different periods and do it at a different pace, which is considered normal. However, further research of the language formation mechanism will enable educators to understand what time and pace are more appropriate, how they can help children increase their capabilities and perform better in language learning, which will indisputably help the latter in their future life and cognition.
Sigelman, C.K., & Rider, E.A. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. Cengage Learning.