For most parents, language development is our biggest worry about our deaf or hard of hearing child. How will our child communicate ideas back and forth, or express and understand feelings? Language development also supports thinking and problem-solving, and developing and maintaining relationships. Learning to understand, use and enjoy language is the critical first step in literacy, and the basis for learning to read and write.
What is language? Language is the words that a child understands and uses as well as how words are used to express thoughts. There are three major parts to language:
- Vocabulary is the store of words a person has – like a dictionary held in long-term memory.
- Grammar, or syntax, is a set of rules about the order in which words should be used in sentences. These rules are learned through the experience of language.
- Discourse is a language skill that we use to structure sentences into conversations, tell stories, poems and jokes, and for writing recipes or letters