The process of acquiring language begins before birth, but is moving at a more rapid pace and changing drastically in early childhood. Children in the early childhood stages of development are very social; they are asking many questions, enhancing their knowledge of language is essential for their learning in all aspects of development (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2008, p. 16).
Language development in early childhood is enhanced when educators present young children with curriculum content that supports language acquisition with the use developmentally appropriate methodologies in teaching language and literacy to young children across a developmental curriculum, and the use of adequate referral and intervention strategies for student with special learning needs related to language development. The curriculum content presented to preschool students is important to the acquisition of language in general.
When teaching students language skills the curriculum consists of teaching the child to read, write and speak well. This will require systematic work in several different areas, such as: phonemic awareness, semantic knowledge, syntactic knowledge, morphemic knowledge and pragmatic knowledge (Otto, 2010, p. 207). The curriculum for young children should consist of teaching how printed language works, recognizing and naming the letters in the alphabet, leaning letter sounds, as well as blending sounds.
Asking questions, describing events, developing vocabulary though conversations and experiences, and opportunities and materials that encourage discussions between students, other students and teachers, along with discussion for problem solving (Bennitt, 1999, pp. 114-115). The developmentally appropriate methodologies in teaching these language and literacy skills to young children consist of exploratory activities, teacher-guided activities, and routine activities (Otto, 2010, p. 208). Exploratory activities are independent activities that allow students a chance to explore ways of interacting with the materials provided.
For instance blocks and manipulative urge children to meet the language goals of describing and labeling what was built and how they built it, helping children to solve problems, and persuading them to ask questions, about what they are building and how it relates to real-life structures and events, using receptive and expressive language . Another exploratory activity is a drama corner, children in this environment talk in the roles they are playing using all five aspects of language knowledge.
The drama center also helps the understanding of written language when students are provided with pencil and paper to make grocery list, or write letters, or take orders in a restaurant. The book center is also a developmentally appropriate method of presenting language curriculum. In the book center students are encouraged to recreate, previously read stories using pictures and tell them to other students, enhancing both receptive and expressive language. The teacher should only be an observer in this setting as it is exploratory and not teacher guided (Otto, 2010, pp. 11-213).
Teacher guided activities also encourage language development, these are activities for a small or large group, but it is considered more developmentally appropriate to keep the large group activities to a minimum and use small groups more often to allow more opportunities for participation and a better view of illustrations or objects involved in the activity. Some of the teacher guided activities that encourage language development are show and tell, book time, oral storytelling and poetry and music time.
Show and tell encourages language development by increasing listening comprehension, vocabulary, and taking turns (Otto, 2010, p. 223). Show and tell also supports expressive phonetic knowledge, encouraging children that to speak at a volume with articulation for clear communication to the children they are speaking to. It encourages receptive semantic knowledge though hearing other children describe what they have brought, while expressive semantic knowledge is enhanced by the child describing what they have brought.
While pragmatic knowledge is encouraged though the learning of how to use language in this setting of sharing an object or event on interest (Otto, 2010, p. 223). Another teacher guided activity is on that increases interest in reading, increases understanding with written language, expands vocabulary development, and awakes of story structure; this activity is book sharing (Otto, 2010, p. 224). Children will gain knowledge in each aspect of language:
1. Pragmatic, diverse stories use language differently. . Phonetic knowledge, consciousness of the sound system of language. 3. Morphemic knowledge, receptive knowledge of how morphemes impact word meanings, 4. Semantic knowledge increased, through strong and diverse language in books, and pragmatic and syntactic knowledge, how thoughts are structured into sentences and phrases of book language or literate resister. Increasing this skill depends on the appropriate selection of books and the interaction strategies used doing the book sharing (Otto, 2010).