Learning the first language is natural due to the exposure the
child has from birth. There are five stages of language acquisition: Preproduction (0-6 months), Early Production (6 months- 1 year), Speech Emergence (1-3 years), Intermediate fluency (3-5 Years), and Advanced Fluency (5-7 years).
When a child is born, the critical learning period begins. The neurons reinforce their connections, and a nervous system begins to ready for learning. In the first 2-4 years of life, a child’s brain needs to get enough healthy activation even before preschool (New York University, 2016). The hippocampus that processes and stores memories need stimulation to develop. A couple of examples of stimulation include language play with songs, and through play with games.
The environment plays a role in the enrichment of a child’s learning. Children are successful when they bond and have a supportive caregiver. Children need to feel safe, have their basic needs for food and shelter met, and the child’s efforts are positively supportive. Creating and maintaining a secure environment promotes building blocks for the child’s future. However, if the environment were not pleasant, the child may feel insecure and afraid. Lack of support and proficient language skills could cause developmental delays.
The physical structure of an individual or species sets limits on what it can learn (Chance, p. 378). We are born with genes that can be activated by the environment in which we live. Some children are born with better genes than others but are still capable of learning. To learn is to change (Chance, p. 373) and over the years, the roles of what we learn have changed as well, including learned behavior.
Chance, P. (2014). Learning and behavior (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
New York University (2016, July 18). Study Points to Critical Periods in Early-Life Learning for Brain Development. PSY Post. retrieved from https://www.psypost.org/2016/07/study-points-critical-periods-early-life-learning-brain-development-43887