What could be the factor that affects language development?

Brooklyn EppFollowDec 10, 2018·8 min readThe Factors that Affect Language DevelopmentBy: Brooklyn EppThere are about 6,909 languages that are spoken in the world today (How many La

What could be the factor that affects language development?
Brooklyn Epp

Brooklyn EppFollow

Dec 10, 2018·8 min read

The Factors that Affect Language Development

By: Brooklyn Epp

There are about 6,909 languages that are spoken in the world today (How many Languages are there in the world, 2012). The average woman speaks 20,000 words per day while males only average 7,000 words (Liberman, 2013). By the age of 5 children usually have learned and understand the basic rules of language, but there are factors that can affect them in the way that makes learning come slower or faster. Understanding and acknowledging signs that show how a childs language is developing is crucial especially in the early years when learning is at its highest point. The language development in children such as babbling, telegraphic speech, and overgeneralization all begin with the environment they are in and the people they are around. Along with that there are many more factors that affect language development.

Word-Bubbles-v21029x555. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://deskmoz.com/blog/best-customer-retention-strategies/word-bubbles-v2-1029x555/

Average Language Development

The average child will go through these main phases of language development: babbling, telegraphic speech, and overgeneralization. Babbling begins in the very early stages of a childs life which is around three months to one year of age. These meaningless sounds can be found in all languages early on and begin reflecting the language being spoken in the infants environment as time continues. Around age one children no longer speak any sounds that are not in the language of the people around them but start saying short words that usually start with consonants (b, d, m, p, and t), and also begin to say two-worded phrases. There are more than 50 words in a childs vocabulary by the age of two, and this is also the time when they produce short sentences using telegraphic speech. This type of speech are sentences where only essential words are used so that instead of saying, put it in the box, a child would say, put in box. Overgeneralization begins by the age of three when children learn how to make words plural by adding s to nouns and how to form past tense words by adding -ed to verbs. Since they are so new to this skill, children tend to utilize these rules to phrases that result in an error, or overgeneralization. For example, a child would say, he gived me drinks of water instead of, he gave me drinks of water. By age 5 children usually know the basic rules of language but do not achieve a full vocabulary and knowledge of grammatical rules until they are older. (Feldman, 2015, p. 256257).



The main factor that effects a childs language development is the environment they are in. What an infant is exposed to in the early stages of life have such a huge influence as to how well their language will develop. There was a case of a young girl named Genie who gives a prime example for this factor. From birth Genie was locked in her room from the rest of the world and barely ever spoken to for 13 years. When social workers finally came to her rescue in the fall of 1970, she was unable to speak at all and acted almost like more of an animal than a human. As time progressed she was able to learn a few words but was never able to master the complexities of language (Feldman, 2015, p. 256). This example shows how crucial the learning environment is because without conversations with and around an infant, they are unable to learn how to say or do anything.

Springston, N. (2016, April 14). ATTN: Busy Moms! Talking to Your Babies is Even Better than Reading to Them. Retrieved from http://calmakids.org/contentmindfulparenting/2016/3/3/read-to-your-kids-from-day-1-of-gestation

To create an environment that would have a positive influence on a childs language development, caregivers need to talk to the infant often especially in their first year. Treating the baby like he or she can already talk will give them the opportunity to talk (babble) back after you have said something to them. As the child grows, responding to gestures a child is giving will let them learn what they are trying to say. Repeating and building upon words a child says is also important. If a child were to say, apple you can respond by saying, you want a red apple so that the child can learn, again, what they are trying to say. In general, speaking to your child about things they understand along with things they do not will influence them to speak more as well. Finding ways to include past, present, and future tense in conversations is beneficial because although the child might not understand you completely, their understanding will grow as their knowledge develops. Lastly, reading with your child helps them learn the meaning and functions of words. Pointing to the words you say along with talking about interesting pictures that are in the book will give a child yet another way to learn language faster and more efficient. (Language Development in Children, 2017) Overall, the environment a child is in can either have a very positive or negative effect on a childs language development. Since language is such an important factor in everyday life, it is important to know what and how to expose a child to language so that they can have the best chance of learning.

Language Disorders

Language disorders such as receptive, expressive, and mixed receptive-expressive language issues also have an effect on childrens development. Around five percent of school aged children have a language disorder and of the 6.1 million children receiving special education in schools, 1.1 million of them are under the category of a speech or language impairment. (Understanding Language Disorders, 2014) The social skills of forming relationships along with academic struggles result from these disorders, so understanding them and taking action to treat them is important.


Genes and hereditary, prenatal nutrition, and other conditions such as autism are all possible reasons a child would have a language impairment. 20 to 40 percent of children that have a family history of speech and language development have it themselves so looking into family history of language disorders is encouraged even before signs are noticed. (Understanding Language Disorders, 2014) You can detect language disorders in many different ways. If the child has a smaller vocabular than those of the same age, often say um or general words like stuff and things, uses a limited variety of sentence structure while speaking, and many other ways can bring up the suspicion of a language impairment. These disorders can be treated by individual speech therapy or psychotherapy. Individual speech therapy works on improving a childs vocabulary and grammar knowledge along with informing guardians on how to work with their child at home. Psychotherapy works with children who struggle from emotional difficulties as a result from language issues (Understanding Language Disorders, 2014). Communicating with a child as much as you can and making reading an interactive experience can also help boost a childs language skills.

Hearing Loss

The effects that hearing loss has on language development is concerning as well. According to the American Speech- Language Hearing Association, one in one thousand American children have severe enough hearing loss to effect language (Score, 2009). Hearing impairments can be caused by some of the same factors of language disorders (genetic factors, syndromes, prematurity, etc.), along with many other reasons. Children with hearing impairments have the ability to learn concrete words like cat, jump, five, and red but have more difficulty with it comes to words like before, after, equal to, and jealous. Since sound is more muffled for these individuals, they are unable to hear soft speech sounds like s, sh, f, t, and k (Effects of Hearing Loss on Development, 2013).

Infants with hearing loss receiving intervention services before age 6 months (percent). (2014). Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/data/Chart/4384?category=1&by=Total&fips=-1

Since those with a hearing impairment are not able to hear such crucial sounds that make a language, it can affect their development if not detected and treated in the early stages of life. Unfortunately, hearing loss is usually not detected in a child until way beyond the critical developing period. In fact, most children are not diagnosed with the impairment until they are around two years old. As a result, if children are born with incurable hearing loss they will learn language through sign language. Researchers believe that children learn sign language the same way as the hearing do so it is very important to expose those deaf to those fluent in sign language as soon as possible. Nine out of ten children born deaf have parents who can hear which means that in order to learn sign language their parents will have to learn as well. Surprisingly, infants can still learn sign language well from their hearing parents even if they arent perfectly fluent themselves. Sign language has all the fundamental features of language such as pronunciation, word order, and complex grammar (American Sign Language, 2014).

Statistics of Communication Disorders. (2015, April 29). Retrieved from https://identifythesigns.org/statistics-of-communication-disorders/

In conclusion there are so many factors that affect language development and even more that are yet to be discovered. Although there are infinitely more reasons language lags or excels in a child, the environment, language disorders, and hearing loss all play tremendous roles for a child trying to learn. The discovery of these factors has helped those who could have never had the ability to communicate with the rest of the world, a chance to learn and excel just as any other person would.


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