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Language Development

Beginnings of Intentional Communication
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The Pre-Linguistic Phase
Beginnings of Intentional Communication
Guidelines for Intentional Communication
Intentional Communication: why?
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How does intentional communication develop?
 
How can adults influence intentional communication?

From birth infants cry, coo, then begin to babble, but these sounds the baby is making (as explained earlier as reflexive, non-reflexive and vegetative sounds) do not necessarily imply that the baby is trying to communicate an actual message. Regardless, this doesn't mean that when the infant starts babbling dadada, babuba or even mama, that the parent should just ignore it as babble. On the contrary, it has been shown that if an adult responds to a baby's cooing and babbling with vocalizations of her own, even a very young baby will begin to produce utterances that are more speech-like.
(Berko Gleason, J., 2005)
 
 
Harding (1983) notes that if a young baby cries, a mother may rush to the baby and describe it as a cry to be changed for example. This young infant is not crying out of the desire to relay any particular message, but merely out of distress or discomfort. What Harding says however, by treating the cry as relaying a message, this can help to differentiate between other signals as distributed by the infant such as differentiating amongst various cries, and can then possibly influence the baby's recognition of the efects his vocalizations and behaviours have on others.
 
 
Additionally, it is good to note that mother's have the founding goal of having a conversation with their child regardless of whether the child can understand language. This alone can influence the development of language. Here is an example given by Snow (1977)..
 
Mother                                      Ann
                                                smile
"oh what a nice little smile
There. There's a nice little
smile"
                                                burps
"What a nice little wind as well!"                                  p.12
 
Here in this example, the mother is responding to the infants sounds, letting the child take a turn as if the child understands the concept of turn taking and language rules. She is treating every vocalization as a turn in the conversation. What Snow argues is that mothers continually adjust what they accept as part of a concersation and adjust their responses to only include higher and higher quality vocalizations. Ex: one day a burp, then a coo, then babble, then vocalization with a gesture, and so on.
        This process resembles scaffolding as Lev Vygotzky would say. The mother is continually uping the anti to produce the desired responses and behaviours.
 
These interactions with the mother or another caregiver can teach a baby the important skills for developing intentional communication. Certain guidelines can be helpful in determining whether a baby is grasping intentional communication...

Click here for guidelines for determining whether a baby is grasping intentional communication

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