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Flordeliza C. Sarmiento

· Volume I Issue I

Mr. Cruz (not his real name), an English language instructor has been devoting himself to his work and his promotions. Since he used up his time mostly for his work, he missed out talking to his toddler which caused him to regret about the missed opportunities. He recalls that he seldom talked to his child and usually gave him his phone or his tablet for his child to be occupied. He used to believe that exposing his child to interactive videos available on Youtube would help his child to learn better since the videos are in English language and those are interactive learning materials. He once hired a babysitter who also seldom talked to his child since according to her, she could not talk to a toddler and that she could not understand the child’s babbling and cooing. These have been for years until this instructor and his wife, also a teacher, noticed that their child has not uttered his first acceptable word either in Filipino or in English. They noticed that he only would babble or utter non-existing sounds of incomprehensible language in order to tell them his needs. This led the couple to visit a specialist to help the child in his language acquisition. By now, the child undergoes sessions of speech therapy and has shown progress, although late and slow.
This scenario is only to illustrate the big role of environment and support to one’s language acquisition. With this is my strong belief in the impact of environment in the process of language development. Although it is an accepted theory that infants have their language acquisition devices enabling them to learn language, it is not enough that we just rely on them since there are many more factors to substantiate one’s acquisition of language.
It is notable that infants indeed could hear and accommodate different linguistic sounds as what the Native Language Magnet Model proposes, but they need more than just the phonetic aspect of language. They need actual and real conversations. Listening to the sounds of language or watching videos with rich sources of language will only prepare their receptive language skills. In this sense, we should not take for granted the value to talking to them so as to reinforce their attempts to produce the language. It is but inevitable to note that baby talks are hard to understand and that we need to look at other linguistic cues the infants do to support their communication, we have to consider that language is conversational and that receptive and productive skills in language contribute to the holistic development of the infants.
Thus, this proposition supports the Social Interactionist Theory which suggests the value of “nurture” in one’s language development. This suggests that children’s language development is affected by the environment and the language input of the people infants are growing up with. This theory also asserts that language is not an isolated discipline to learn about. Hence, it also taps the communicative aspect of language acquisition. In this case, I would like to add the value of physical environment where the infants are exposed to language. This negates the mindset of most parents that once a child is exposed to different children songs and videos, there is more likelihood that they will have a better grasp of the first and the target language. Letting infants watch interactive videos alone does not help in the progress albeit its proven effect to aiding the linguistic competence of children.
Although there is the notion as what the Cognitive Theory suggests that children in their sensory-motor period have their egocentric linguistic state where they “talk for themselves or for the pleasure of associating anyone” around them, this could be the time when adults have to assist them to actualize the next stages of linguistic development. I believe that adults have to act in help for the development of children’s language through scaffolding. Children however cannot be viewed to be helpless individuals who cannot make sense of the world around them, but they will be successful in language learning and development if there are reinforcements and guidance from more knowledgeable ones. What happened in the illustration I made is that the parents did not accommodate the zone of proximal development of their child which hampered the development of the child’s linguistic ability.
I would like to emphasize the value of “real talk” to children which is characterized by the talking of the full language to children even when they just start to babble and coo. This way, children get a grasp of real language as modeled by the adults. Giving children that “real talk” provides them with the reinforcement which is a big factor to their development. For instance, when children imitate the sound of the language and became successful in it and receive claps, smiles or even a feedback or response from adults, they become more enthusiastic to produce more attempt of producing the language even whether they understand it or not. It also pays when adults model the exaggerated features of language like the individual sounds or intonation to children. This way, they tend to be keen with the production of the sound which will then lead to the production of meaningful linguistic chunks.
It then goes without saying that adults play an important role in the language acquisition among children. However, this theory does not suffice all there is to explain about language acquisition, but it tries to examine and emphasize the communicative features of language and the active role of adults to assist the children in their linguistic development.

Orillos, L. (1997). Language acquisition theories, principles, and research. UPOU: Quezon City, Phil.
Psycholinguistics/Theories and Models of Language Acquistion. (2017). Retrieved September 28, 2017