Developing Oral Language

Developing Oral Language

20 November 2018

Human beings have an innate desire to communicate. This begins from inside the womb where babies ‘learn’ the sound of their mother’s voice and heartbeat. It continues after birth with initial communication being crying, facial expressions and body language and position, continuing to develop until language skills are formed and vocabulary begins.

Infants and children desire interaction, both physical and emotional. Babies want to be held, rocked, sung and cooed to. Children want hugs, to be carried, play finger games and to sing and dance with you. All of these interactions give the children cues to how you are feeling, and they begin to learn emotional intelligence – happy, sad, playful, etc. 

In order for children to develop oral language, they need to want to communicate, and to be communicated with. You can do this by simply talking with babies, and giving them opportunities to “talk back”. Pause as you would in a normal conversation, and give them the opportunity to answer back. This interaction begins to give children the “unspoken” rules of communication, where we each take turns to communicate. Communication gives us the opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships with others.

Te Whāriki notes in the Strand of Communication – Mana Reo “Kaiako read books, tell stories and talk with infants. Many opportunities are provided to have fun with sounds and language. Language is used to soothe and comfort. The programme includes action games, finger plays and songs that encourage oral language.”

So – play games with infants, make faces, exaggerate facial expressions, sing nonsense songs, tell stories, poems and have conversations, babble back. All these things are fun and will encourage infants to respond and react and communicate.

Finger play examples:

Here is the Beehive
Here is the beehive (make a fist)
Where are the bees?
Hiding inside where nobody sees
Watch them come creeping out of the hive
One, two, three, four, five (release one finger at a time from the fist/hive)
…BUZZ-ZZZ (wiggle fingers)

Open Shut Them

Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, creep them,
Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open up your little mouth,
But do not put them in.