The preschool age is the two years before a child joins an elementary school that is age three to five years. The age is characterized by considerable growth in language among the children. It is because they can now spend a lot of time engaging in activities and with other children and hence, exposed to a variety of words, expressions, and objects they pick along the way. They may be in a preschool program or otherwise, but either way the interaction with others in pretend play, drawing, modeling and other explorations build the language development in a major way (Turnbull & Justice, 2011). Their vocabulary expands at an exponential rate as their semantic and morphosyntactic language structure becomes even more complicated. The changes in language are an indication of the development of their cognitive abilities, as they become thinkers that are more complex as they grow and they demonstrate the growth through language development. Moreover, they are curious about language and want to use it more to make their demands. Semantic language skillfulness refers to the understanding and proper use of the meaning of words, phrases, sentences and other longer units. The morphosyntactic language, on the other hand, is the set of rules that govern linguistic whose properties can be defined by the morphological and syntactic criteria (Turnbull & Justice, 2011). The child develops morphology, which is the understanding and use of structure and construction of words and syntactic skills, which are the rules that govern combination of words to form sentences. The paper below is a documentation of language development among preschoolers using the language transcription and analysis process.
Semantics encompasses the language of language, and the child generates the meanings of such words. The semantic skills include the ability to understand and state labels, recognize and name categorical labels, comprehend and state functions, identify words by their definitions understand and use descriptive words and define words (Turnbull & Justice, 2011). Semantic language development among the preschoolers expands from the concrete nouns during infancy to complex, abstracts, and relational concepts such as the words of actions, emotions, and colors. The children should be able to make connections among the words in their vocabulary building some complex network of similar words and concepts. In analyzing the semantic development of Rebecca, I focused on the way she used her words. It is important to note whether she used the right words in the proper context for the utterance to make sense. The focus was on what can be characterized as the word, phrase, or sentence and not just what can be associated. The analysis I used on Rebecca’s syntax is the Type Token Ratio (TTR). The TTr is easy to calculate the measure of true function of vocabulary that reflects the diversity of the words that Rebecca uses. Therefore, a variation from the range was an indication of slowness in development. I used the TTR method by transcribing the responses made by Rebecca during her speech. I then went ahead to number every word that she pronounced. I then went ahead to count the words that were different in that I did not calculate the same word more than once but had a table for the frequency of using certain words. I ascertained the number of new words or different words used. Calculating the TTR involved dividing the number of new words by the total number of words that she produced. Some different words produced was 65 while the total number of words she produced was 170. TTR: 65/170 = .38235294. Therefore, Rebecca’s TTR was TTR = .38.
Children of Rebecca’s age have an average of a TTR of .45-.50. It meant that at the age, the children would produce a larger number of different words and not repeat the same words in such a great frequency as Rebecca did. They would also use pronouns such as they, them, us while at the same time using fast mapping to learn new words (Turnbull & Justice, 2011). Rebecca can produce the pronouns in her sentences as she uses the words such as them and other pronouns. The children at preschool age are also characterized by the use of syntactic information to be able to narrow down on the meaning of different words that they produce. Rebecca is on track with her peers since she tries to infer meanings of words and even corrects those wrongly interpreted. It is demonstrated by her arguments that a sheep has no wheel but has legs. It means that she ensured that she gets the meaning of the word sheep. By the time the children reach the school age, they can produce and use between 1500 to 2000 words and comprehend between 2,500 to 2800 words (Turnbull & Justice, 2011). Rebecca at this stage was able to produce new words just as her peers at her age but had difficulty in producing them as fast as was expected of her as demonstrated by the TTR score that she had. Moreover, the children can use reflexive pronouns such as himself, herself and itself at the same time use animate words to infer the meaning of new words that they learn.
Morphosyntactic Development is the combination of development of morphology and syntax of a child. Morphology is the study of word formation while syntax is the study of how words combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentences. Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in a language that include the prefixes, suffixes that mark the syntactic information. The morphemes combine to form words governed by the grammatical rules of language that is the syntax. Strong knowledge of grammatical morphemes such as the use of –ing for a present progressive verb and use of /s/ plural and the correct use of verb tense is necessary so as to develop the necessary morphosyntactic skills. For the analysis of Rebecca’s case, I computed the Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) of the child (Brown, 1973). I took a sample of the first 50 utterances that she made to analyze them and draw a conclusion on her morphosyntactic development. Every word that Rebecca produced, I broke it down into morphemes, and then I counted the total number of the morphemes for every utterance e that she made. The morphemes I then totaled and then divided them into the total number of statements that she made. Bearing in mind that the MLU of a child corresponds significantly with their age, I used Roger Brown’s five stages f language development based on their MLU to assess Rebecca’s case (Brown, 1973). According to Brown’s stages of language development, a 36-month-old child has an average MLU of 3.16. The MLU is 2.47-3.85. Rebecca is 37 months with an MLU of 3.8. Her MLU falls higher on the spectrum for her age, but within the 2.47-3.85 range of 36 months.
Rebecca is above the range of morphosyntactic development as compared to her age mates. However, her development is not above the expected range hence is within the developmental range of children at three years and one month. She is comfortably able to use four to five words in most of her sentences just like the children of her age are expected. For example, she makes sentences such as, “Cause/ it /has/ an/ airplane”. Moreover, Rebecca can use compound sentences by the use of /and/ just like is expected of her peers. For example, when she says, “24R: I put the cars in the car place. 25R: And this doesn’t match.”
In conclusion, language development is progressive throughout childhood. The preschool stage is, however, the phase that the child can develop complex language skills that advance on to school age and beyond. The development of Morphemes is, however, the most fundamental aspect of language development since it is the primary element of a word that influence the development of syntax and the semantic skills of such a child. The syntax involves the development of fundamental grammatical rules that govern the combination of words whereas the semantics are the ability to use the words in the right way at the right time. It is these skills that Rebecca at three years and one month is developing as expected although she scored lower on her TTR score for her semantics. It may be because of her exposure to the socialization with others to acquire and produce new words. However, her morphosyntactic development is above average and hence can construct words and short sentences that have a meaning and make compound sentences with connectors. Therefore, Rebecca’s language development at early preschool age is still on track but the caregiver should expose her to more areas that enhance her exposure to new words and phrases to catch up on her semantics. She could engage in more play, and the caregivers could consider enrolling her in a preschool program where they engage in more drawing, pretend to play, to sing, and interaction with other children that will be an essential buffer to her word production and subsequently develop her language further.
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