Words to Communicate

Language is our way of communicating. The words we gather and learn as an infant carry us forward into childhood and on helping us navigate the world around us. In our world there are roughly 6,500 languages that are spoken (according to the internet). Each young child learns the words of their family with accents and all. As a new born, a child has the capacity to speak any language that they hear but over time they hone their ear to the sounds of their family and friends.

We have had the privilege playing with our grandson and watching him learn day to day as his parent work. We began with hearing sounds along with his cries as he asks for milk or to be held. There were weeks when I was sure he was speaking an Asian language given his inflection and then he would switch to sounds that reminded me of Spanish. There were coos and ahhs of different pitches. He seemed to be singing is way through his day in many languages.

Now he is almost 11 months old and he has been modeling the things we say after a few weeks of quite intense work on learning to crawl and thinking about balance to walk. His inflections are those of English and clearly following the sounds of his parents and grandparents, the people he sees. This week he must feel comfortable in his ability to get around because language is coming fast and furious. He can turn his energies to words instead of movement.

There are the long sentences with inflection that leaves us wondering what we are missing in his thinking since we don’t yet understand his language and he has not fully taken on ours. There are questions we are sure he is asking but we just are not getting the message yet.

There are the times when he is very clear what his needs are by sounds, facial expressions and body language. But this weekend he bust forth with his first true word that he used with meaning and not in imitation of others. On Sunday morning breakfast was being put on the tray of his high chair, a small bit of egg directly out of the pan. Being the big eater he is he picked it up quickly – looked at it and said “Hot”.  He was right the egg was still warm from the pan. The days of listening to all of us say hot when holding our tea or coffee cup transferred to his eggs. Language and words clearly now have meaning to him.

As this week has progressed he is using all the sounds he has been storing up in that little brain of his. It is not clear how many words he truly is using right now but there are plenty that make us know he will be a talker soon. And just like crawling we may rule the day we wished for language.

Well, not really although crawling is wearing us out as we hurry to keep up with the speed demon we love every minute of seeing him move on his own. I am sure language will be the same. He may talk too much but I am looking forward to those conversation as they develop over time.

Infant language and sounds are cute and fun but oh the joy of watching and listening to a child learn to communicate with the home language of their family is always amazing. Learning to say what they are thinking and the ability to communicate complex thought is a wonder. A gift to be nurtured and developed.

A clear large vocabulary, deep complex thinking patterns and a joy of knowledge is now the current goal in this house hold. There are stories to be told, books to be read and conversations to be had. The fun only gets better!

Loving the life of a Grandparent!

                            Little Man exploring The Grouchy LadyBug and The Little Blue Truck 

The fine literature of board books!

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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5 Responses to Words to Communicate

  1. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    Being grandparents is wonderful. We are watching our grandchildren talking . Our daughter and family live in Germany. At home they speak our language, Kannada. We talk to them in Kannada, everyday. But they also speak German. Our grandson is six and is fluent in German. Our granddaughter is two and is learning many German words. They are picking up English too. It is fascinating. In our place most people speak at least three languages.

    • Joanne Toft says:

      I love that they are learning many languages. I have been adding a bit of Spanish as we speak with your grandson but I am not fluent in anything but English. I wish I have learned at least one other language early in life. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. TammyB says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. I enjoyed your reflection and I also cherish seeing how babies learn and practice and develop language. Your story about the first word that was not in imitation- hot- was a good small moment and evidence about language learning. I especially notice your attention to inflection- sometimes it sounds like other languages we just don’t understand, but then gradually it settles into English inflection. The English words will follow soon! And fast, like you say, to your cherished “speed demon.” Virtual visiting is not as good but at least you aren’t missing out on these precious developments.

  4. Your description had me hearing him in conversation using that language which mimics and mirrors our own. I watched my boys grab and devour words which now fill our conversations and since we all value communication, they know to choose them carefully. I love this line, “A clear large vocabulary, deep complex thinking patterns and a joy of knowledge is now the current goal in this house hold” and wish that this was the goal for many.

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