Youngest Child Who Speaks Early Than the Older

January 19, 2019

Every child has different ability and improvement in learning language. It depends on how much the child contact with language. Children must introduce to language as soon as possible. According to Steinberg et al. (2001) suggest that a child could learn language simply by being exposed to sentences, with little or no necessity for relevant environmental stimuli (object, events, situations). On the subject of how children learn language I have a case related to my niece and her cousin. My niece is Aqeela Nurul Mumtaz. Comparing with her cousin who is older than her, Aqeela speaks earlier than her cousin Akbar. There are some reasons that Aqeela speaks quickly, whereas Akbar speaks late.

Aqeela is a lively and chatty child. Since she was a baby, she has been very active. The age of 3 or 4 months when someone talked to her, she always responded with smiling, cooingorbabbling. Even she could respond with scream. Her babbling was very progressive which leads her to speak actively. Unluckily, it did not happen with Akbar, his babbling was not advanced as well as Aqeela. In point of fact, as Steinberg et al. (2001) write that speech is dependent to some degree on babbling. The age of 13 month, she was very talkative and always played anything around her. At that age, she already could say “mama, ayah, kakek, and nenek.” Her mother said that indeed she have talked to her baby since she was a baby. 

Nevertheless, the baby did not respond and understand but it was kind of stimulation for the child. According to Steinberg’s et al. (2001) state that the speech which parents and others use in talking to children has a number of distinctive characteristics which evidently aid learning language. Because of this reason, it could make Aqeela develops very fast with her speaking skill.

Another reason, my sister in law is a full time housewife who always with her child. She is the one who sees and takes cake her child from wake up in the morning until sleep at night. In the 6 months period, her mother always sing songs while she is eating or playing with her toys. The purpose actually to make her quiet so her mother can easily feeds her. Unexpectedly she loves to listen the songs, then it becomes her habit every time she eats she listens children songs. Gradually my sister in law plays the songs through DVD to make Aqeela knows others songs. The songs are Indonesian children songs such as Si Komo, Abang Tukang Bakso, Anak Gembala, and etc. 

Furthermore, sometimes she also listens English songs from her father’s gadget. There is an application for children to learn English which has many English songs in it. Since she listens and sings the songs, it trains her to talk more because she sings the songs. She enjoys the activity which involves her. Therefore, she has more vocabulary that she gets from the songs that she has listened. A report from Zero to Three states talking, reading and singing all stimulate children’s understanding and use of language, and help them learn to become good communicators and eager readers” (Lerner & Ciervo, 2004, p.2).

Since she was baby until last august, she lived with her mother, her grandfather and grandmother in Serang, Banten. Her father who is my brother lived in Jakarta because he was continuing his study. Aqelaa usually met him in the weekend. Even though she rarely met her father, she did not lack communication. Every day, she communicates with her mother, grandfather and grandmother.Her grandfather as well always took Aqeela to go around the complex every morning and every afternoon after she had taken a bath. In my opinion, both her grandfather and grandmother really play important role in Aqeela’s development. After her mother, both of them are the people who intensely talk to her. Besides, she also communicates with people around her house. There are five children who always play with her. 

Moreover, she has many aunties and uncles who are always excited with her presence. She meets them every three or four times in a year. I think that Aqeela has many people to communicate with, so it makes her language learning increase than Akbar. As Nwokah (1987) and Bavin (1992) discuss that child receives input from many sources-mother, father, siblings, relatives, friends, etc. and that such input has special linguistics characteristics. As Steinberg et al. (2001) also say that the nature of speech and environmental input which children receive is essential and is often contrived to assist language learning. 

She moved from Serang last august. At this time she is living in Aceh because her father works there. She is 21 months now. In that age, she is able to imitate any words from people around her especially from her parents. In Steinberg’s et al. (2001) view imitation means the child copies and repeats aloud the words which he or she hears i.e. when I visited her and went somewhere, in the car the adults was talking, and Aqeela’s mother said a word “”setuju.” Quickly, Aqeela who just wake up from sleep loudly spoke the word “setuju.” I believe that she has ability to imitate words very fast which make her has excellent ability in speaking skill. 

Additionally, she not only imitates her parents but also any sources that she hears. For instance, she imitates the word “cie cie” from a commercial break in television when she watched it. She says the words which she heard from her surroundings, whether she understand the words or not. As Steinberg et al. (2001) point out that children are unable to utter words or sentences for the purpose of communication without gaining an understanding of the speech first.Sometimes, she immediately reproduces what her parents said and enables to produce a sentence.By imitating her parents it makes Aqeela speaks any words clearly and fluently. According to Steinberg et al. (2001) explain that imitation is only for the development of the articulation of speech sounds.Masur(1995) also argues that through imitation children learn how to pronounce sounds and words and they seem to enjoy imitating the sounds which they hear.

In addition, she can respond when people talk with her. Sometimes the answers are unpredicted. For instance, when she played with her toys then tidy up the toys her mother said “Anak siapa sih kok pinter banget?”suddenly she said “anakcerdas.”In fact, her motherhas never taught the word. Another example, a week ago my mother who is her grandmother went to come home after visited her in Aceh. Aqeela knew that her grandmother was going back home soon. She suddenly said “Mbah Uti mau pulang? Nanti Aqeela nangis.” At that time, my mother and Aqeela’s mother wondered because of her answer. From that we know Aqeela not only has ability to produce but also respond what other people said or did.

On the other hand, Aqeela’s cousin, Akbar who older than her speaks late. In fact, physically he grows faster than Aqeela. He walks and his teeth grow earlier than Aqeela. Akbar walks at the age around 10 or 11 months, whereas Aqeela knows how to walk at the age of 13 months.  Unfortunately, his development in learning language grows slowly than his physical progress.When he was a baby, his babbling was not very often. It could make his development in speech also grows unhurriedly. Normally, children could speak at the age of a year but Akbarcan speaks “mama, papa, ngga and uvu which means susu” at the age of two years, even he cannot say it clearly. Contrary with Steinberg, Nagata, and Aline (2001) statement in their book which state that uttering the first word often occurs at around one year of age but can much earlier or much later. In the same book they also argue that, on average, it would seem that children utter their first word around the age of 10 months. 

Other reasons, both his father and mother are working. His mother goes every morning at 06.30 and come home at 19.30, while his father goes every morning at 06.30 and come back at 17.00. As a result, Akbar stays at home with a maid. The maid likes to watch soap opera at television, therefore Akbar also watch it. Due to the fact that Akbar’s parents are working parents, it makes both his parents rarely talk with Akbar. His parents are busy and only talk with him in the morning and at night. In the weekend, Akbar usually goes to shopping center with his parents. Nonetheless, the activity is not categorically related to language exposure, he always plays at TIME ZONE also does mandi bola. Another reason, even though he has a companion at home that is the maid, it does not guarantee if Akbar talk with the maid intensely. Because of these reasons Akbar gets small exposure from his family especially his parents. Moreover, he loves to watch many cartoons such as Thomas and friend, Masha and the Bear, Upin Ipin and Teletubies. He also likes to listen children songs but he regularly watches the cartoon. Comparing with Aqeela, Akbar only plays with his neighbors in the afternoon. He also has no relatives who visit him. 

In my opinion, people who communicate with him are limited. He exposes to language only from movies that he watches every day. The movies itself is one-way communication actually. Therefore, watching movies make him become a passive child. A report from Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapist (IASLT) suggested that TV is not interactive therefore is a passive activity as the TV does not talk back. As Voster et al. (1976) clarify that children who have the misfortune to have been exposed to language mainly through television or by overhearing adults’ conversation do not acquire significant language knowledge. IASLT also reported that watching TV does not improve a child’s vocabulary or communication skills. It could be the reasons why he speaks late than Aqeela.

Nowadays, Akbar is 3 years 5 months. He is able to produce many sentences even though those are ungrammatical sentences such as “Mas naik odong-odong,”“Mas minta uvu (susu),”“Mas nonton Thomas,”“Mas pipis,” “Mas bobo.”In my view, both Akbar and Aqeela have understood what language is, so they can produce the language.As Steinberg et al. (2001) clarify that child must first be able to comprehend the meaning of the language before they themselves can produce it. As Ingram (1989) also claims that the speech understanding always precedes production is the pattern that continues throughout the acquisition process.  Although, most of Akbar’s sentences are ungrammatical and Aqeela can produce more grammatical language, they still can produce language. According to Ingram (1974) says that as the comprehension of some word, phrase, or grammatical form is learned, some of that learning may be produce in speech. 

In a nutshell, based on Aqeela and Akbar case, Aqeela has fast progress in learning language. The reasons are her babbling was progressive, her mother communicates intensively with her because her mother is a housewife, she has many people to talk to, and she also exposes to language activity that stimulate her to talk that is singing. 

Nonetheless, Akbar gets little experience regarding language. Due to less-progressive babbling, busy parents, less number of people to communicate with, and passive activity regarding to language learning, it makes his progression in learning language is not as fast as Aqeela’s progression. Though Akbar is older than Aqeela, it does not effect to Akbar’s development. In my point of view, the reason that influences more is the exposure from their surroundings especially from their parents. According to Steinberg et al. (2001) claim that without exposure to language children will not acquire any language. Children also need some form of exposure, be in the form of speech, sign, writing, or touch, before language learning can occur and that exposure should be offered as early as possible in the child’s life. 

While Aqelaa’s mother is housewife, Akbar’s mother is working woman. Due to this reason, both Akbar and Aqeela have different exposure to language. As a result, Akbar who gets small exposure from his surroundings has difficulty to speak clearly and his development in learning language grows bit by bit, whereas Aqeela who get many contact from her parents speaks earlier than Akbar and able to speak any words clearly and talkatively.


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