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The impact of language on the development of children

‘I am stopped as the world

Comes back

Wet and beautiful

I am thinking

That language

Is not even a river

Is not a tree

Is not a green field

Is not even a black ant travelling?

Briskly modestly

From day to day

From one golden page to another’ – Mary Oliver (40 years)

Poster of storytelling in Tamil
Kathai with Anu Aunty!

‘‘Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.’ - unknown

In her book ‘Lowlands’ Author Jhumpa Lahiri says ‘’Language, identity, place, home: these are all of a piece- just different elements of belonging and not-belonging’’

Language is a complex topic as it includes issues of art, rhetoric, and identity. When did language come about?

Origin and importance of language

Cuneiform is known to be the first form of written language. But spoken language predates writing by at least tens of thousands of years. It is unclear at what point spoken language developed. Since, Homosapiens emerged around 150,000 – 200,000 years ago, so we assume that language emerged around that time. Experts estimate that there are 5000-7000 languages in the world. Debates about the nature and origin of language go back to the ancient world. During the time when it was common to have debates about human’s origins, it also became the norm to speculate about the origin of the human language. Thinkers like Rousseau and Herder argued that language had originated for the basic need to express emotions. Originally it was closer to poetry or music than logical expression. It is commonly believed that humans acquire language through social interactions in early childhood. Most psychologists promote the theory that children with normal cognitive skills who are brought up in an environment exposed to language, will acquire language skills without formal instruction.

What makes human language special

Language is used as a tool to communicate, as a result it plays a crucial role in social groups and interactions. Animals have their own method of communication, especially in cases of danger, hunger, and mating time. In contrast to animals, human language has two unique characteristics:

  • It allows speakers to express in sentences

  • Speakers use it to exchange specific information with each other

Language in the brain

Language is processed in many distinct locations in the human brain, but research has highlighted two primary areas as ‘language centers.’ These are Broca’s area, responsible for processes that lead to speech utterance and Wernicke’s area, which is responsible for decoding speech. If one of these areas were to get damaged, it would impair the ability to speak and comprehend.

Additional research also shows that learning more languages does have a particularly important influence on the brain. It is known to improve the size and activity of brain areas that are not associated with traditional ‘language centers.’ It has also been found some language students experience growth in the hippocampus. This is the brain region that is associated with spatial navigation and learning. Some parts of the cerebral cortex as shown growth as well. Also, that learning a language does boost the potential of the brain cells to form new connections faster.

In a study conducted by Medical News Today, it was found that during childhood, the more languages you learn, the easier it is for our brains to process and retain information.

The effects of bilingualism

Researchers seemed to have drawn many connections between multilingualism, bilingualism and maintenance of brain health. These studies have indicated bilingualism can be a protective shield during Allzheimer’s disease and forms of dementia.

In the book, ‘Neuropsychologia’ the authors highlight that bilingualism might protect the brain against cognitive decline. This is because when you speak two languages, it helps develop the temporal lobes of the brain.

Being bilingual also trains the brain to be more resourceful and efficient while processing information.

Language changes our perception

Most language experts believe that language changes the way we think and express ourselves. But more importantly it also impacts the way we perceive the world. It holds considerable influence on our decision-making.

‘The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is.’ – Lera Broditsky

Our Language courses

The importance of Language does not restrict itself to communicative uses alone. It also lends itself quite strongly to significant social uses like group identity, social stratification as well as use for social grooming and entertainment. Language and culture are said to be codependent. That is why, we at Learner Circle have curated language courses for French, Malayalam and English. These courses are specially designed to improve your child’s communication skills, social skills, thinking skills and the way your child perceives the world. All three courses are certificate courses.

It is said that to ‘learn another language, is to possess a second soul’

Lead your child into a journey of learning and adventure. Click here to explore some of the language course at Learner Circle.


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