Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brian Cox, actor, on language development!

Brian Cox teaches 30-month-old Theo a bit of Shakespeare. (first seen at boingboing)

Added on Feb 11:

I did not have time add comments to this clip when I originally posted it as one of my occasional offerings on creativity, language and memory development.

Theo is a remarkable, natural talker, but I can guarantee you, without ever having met his parents, that he is also benefiting from an environment in which adults speak to him all the time. I'll bet they don't use baby talk, and that they listen to him carefully, and patiently encourage him him to try again when he is not being understood. They don't finish his sentences for him. I'll also bet that there is lots of rhyming word play, nursery rhymes, and songs with gestures. And books.

Babies need to be spoken to from birth. If you watch carefully, you may occasionally have the feeling that even a very young infant is making fleeting attempts to imitate your gestures. You are not imagining this: it is the precursor of speech. By 6 months, it becomes obvious to the adults in a baby's life that babies are very social little critters. They love to imitate hand gestures, facial expressions, and the melodic contours of the language they hear. Older toddlers get joy (and social props) from imitating, as can clearly be seen in Theo's case.

Children do develop at different rates, of course, but they are often smarter and more creative than we realize...we just don't always know what they are trying to express, and sometimes we don't have the patience to truly observe.

If you have a little one in your life, please don't think that Theo's performance is a typical benchmark! I posted the clip because it is inspiring to see a little one and an adult so thoroughly engaged with each other, and mutually enjoying a brief dose of an activity a bit more creatively challenging than "Barney" or "Doodlebops".

If you do have worries that your child is lagging in language development, here is a useful developmental chart.

1 comment:

  1. This piece of video is a real favourite of mine, partly because it melts the hearts of the ‘toughest’ secondary school students.

    “What a piece of work is a man [or child] how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and

    (Hamlet | Act II, Scene II.)