Language development is something parents look forward to in their children. Speech is the basis from which their communication skills build up. The ability to learn new languages can start as early as 12 months old. Until then, they communicate using pre-linguistic gestures, which are nonverbal ways for an infant to communicate. Parents should talk more to their children and listen more as well.
Children tend to store new languages in the deep motor areas of their brain. These are the parts of the brain that store information about things we do subconsciously like tying our shoes. Adults on the other hand, have to make a conscious effort to learn new languages.
Learning a language can be made simpler for them by using associations for new words and repeatedly using the words, so it really stays in their mind. Children should be able to form full sentences by the time they are three years old. Talk to them in their native language/other tongue so that they pick up on it.
Talk to your spouse in your native language in front of your child and let them listen and try to understand. Engage them in conversations, make them watch movies in the language and teach them how to count in the same language as well.
You can then start teaching them another languages like English or even a regional languages like Telugu, Tamil or Marathi. Although secondary languages can be learned and picked up later in life, it is beneficial to expose your child to at least two languages from a young age. This will not confuse them – they will be able to understand the difference between languages. Learning multiple languages at a young age can help improve your child’s learning capability.
After teaching them how to speak the language, you can slowly start teaching them how to read and write. You can start this learning process by showing them flashcards and making them read the letters out loud. If they don’t know it or say the wrong one, correct them. This will help them with associating the written form.
You can then start writing words, sounding out each syllable of the word and having them repeat it after you. This way, they learn how to produce the sound of different vowels and how to make the sounds of consonants.
By the time they are four, they should be able to start writing the alphabet. The first step would be to teach them how to hold a pencil. You can then teach them how to draw basic shapes like circles and squares, and how to draw horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. You can help them learn by holding their hand and guiding their hand along the paper. After this you can ask them to trace the shapes and finally to practice drawing it on their own.
After they grasp the concept of drawing lines and shapes, you can teach them how to write alphabets. Sound each letter as you teach them. Use the same technique you used to teach them how to draw shapes – guide their hand, make them trace the alphabet and practice writing it on their own – along with making them pronounce or sound the letter as they write it.
You can follow up the writing lessons by showing flashcards of those letters. Ask them to produce the sound of each letter and then write them down.