Children’s language skills are closely linked to successful school learning and the achievement of high educational qualifications. Poor language skills are a major risk factor for educational failure. As per the studies of last few years, the national and international comparative school studies show that children with lower linguistic abilities at school entry, regardless of whether due to language development disorders or in the context of migration background and multilingualism, achieve lower school-leaving qualifications.
Language skills are a prerequisite for learning at school, and thus directly from the transition from daycare to school. They are the basis for the acquisition of written language. But also for the acquisition of mathematical skills and other learning processes. The central position of language in the classroom and for the learning process arises from a fact – it is at the same time a subject of learning, a medium, and a carrier of knowledge. We will elaborate on these three aspects in the following.
Language as A Subject of Learning
It is obvious that language is the subject of study in German and foreign language lessons. The curriculum includes the acquisition of the written language (reading and writing). But also the learning of grammatical rules and the correct use of language in different contexts. The focus is also on developing the ability to tell stories and other pragmatic communication skills as subjects of study.
Often, however, there is no reflection on the fact that language is an essential subject of study in all other subjects as well. It is about building up technical vocabulary as well as learning technical expressions and formulations. For example, in the 4 years of primary school, children learn about 500 mathematical terms such as addition, straight line, sum, square, etc. This does not even take into account that the numerals themselves are technical terms (e.g. one, thirteen, eight hundred, and thirty-four).
Phonological Awareness Skills
Phonological awareness skills are of particular importance. To convert spoken language into written language for written language acquisition, children must be able to analyze language in its phonetic units. In kindergarten, the promotion of phonological awareness is particularly possible. It can be used successfully as prevention of reading and spelling disorders (LRS).
Language as A Medium
Language is our common code – our medium when we humans exchange content, messages, requests, orders, opinions, etc. It has a linguistic equivalent. For example, for a kindergarten group, a picture of a frog can be used as a pictogram. Information (Linguistic) is then connected to this image:
Who is the educator? Which children are in the group? What toys are there in the group? It is comparable with pictograms for kitchen/bathroom/workshop etc.
For the students to be able to understand the content of the lesson well, the teacher must speak in a clearly articulated and accentuated manner. She should use sentence structures that correspond to the students’ requirements in terms of their complexity. To read and understand texts or worksheets students need to use the code/medium. You also need this code, to access information from different media (radio, internet, television, magazines).
What Do Children Need To Learn?
So-called discontinuous texts represent a special area. Children have to learn that graphics, graphs, tables, and diagrams are ways of presenting and conveying information. To be able to understand them, one has to verbalize the contents contained therein.
If children cannot perceive spoken language due to hearing impairment, everyone involved is aware of the importance of language as a medium in everyday and learning situations. One tries to improve perception by amplifying the sound signal (hearing aids, cochlear implant, FM system), observing the child’s sitting position in the room, and trying to ensure understanding using the visual code (sign language, images). Even children with language development disorders cannot use the spoken language code as well as the typically developed children.
Children With Phonological Disorder
With phonological disorder, certain words and sounds, contain sound the same or are mixed up. This means that the child cannot correctly understand the content of the statement made by the educator or teacher. If the vocabulary is not developed in accordance with age or the child has problems with grammar the same is applied. Then it quickly happens that the children cannot use the medium of language adequately. In one situation, you do not succeed in extracting the same information as the children with good language skills. As a result, they learn less or incompletely.
Language as A Carrier of Knowledge
A wide range of knowledge is available to us in the form of lexicons, specialist books, and instructions for use. Our knowledge is stored linguistically in long-term memory, and we have to call it up to solve tasks. But our own records in exercise books, leaflets, and index cards also illustrate the function of language as a carrier of knowledge. The last function of language dealt is the knowledge carrier.
Early Childhood Education as A Key Driver of Language Learning
In this article, the importance of language in school as well as life-world-related teaching-learning situations has become clear. Early childhood education plays an important role in the prevention of school problems. The previously widespread opinion of “we’d rather wait” or “this is growing out” has now been refuted several times.
The earlier and more intensively we promote these skills, the more successfully subsequent problems can be prevented. These include auditory and visual perception skills, first experience with written language, texts, and books (early literacy), first experience with mathematical questions (early numeracy), the development of a first specialist vocabulary (vocabulary for seasons, festivals, nature, etc.).
Importance of Linguistic Skills
Linguistic skills are necessary so that the child can have independent experiences in the world of life. Poor language skills also mean that the child cannot communicate with family and friends as well (self-concept, self-efficacy). In situations in which other children almost spontaneously create new words, Recognizing and learning contextual relationships and social rules and roles, children with poor linguistic abilities cannot connect the new “knowledge puzzle pieces” or only insufficiently with existing “puzzle pieces”.
Since difficulties can arise again for children with overcoming language disorders in the school due to the increased language requirements the support and educational measures should be continued. Research in recent years has shown that learning several languages at the same time is not a problem. There is even evidence that multilingual children are more effective and better at certain language processing skills than monolingual children.
Moreover, as per the professional dissertation writers the language skills and competencies further help students with their wordy assignments and projects in future academic years and even professionally.