The Importance of Language
Language underlies a person’s capacity for learning, thinking, behaviour, and relationships. Strong language and communication skills will support a person to experience success and develop a positive sense of self.
Language underlies a person’s thinking and behaviour. Our internal dialogue (language) helps us to make sense of our experiences and respond to the world around us. We use language to compare, contrast, categorise, label and describe our emotions and experiences. Labelling our emotions is an important first step when learning how to better understand and manage our feelings. Language also helps us to problem solve, make good choices and learn from our experiences.
Language underlies a person’s capacity for learning. The school curriculum across all subject areas requires a child to have adequate expressive and receptive language skills. The prep aged child needs oral language skills in order to develop literacy skills, as children use language to talk about pictures, words, letters and sounds. Classroom learning requires the school aged child to understand and use new vocabulary, and use language to express their own ideas and opinions about topics. They must also understand and remember spoken directions, verbal explanations and classroom discussions. The older adolescent must process large chunks of spoken information, then pull out the main idea and learn to write notes during classes and lectures.
Language underlies a person’s capacity for relationships. We use language to have engaging conversations, to tell colourful and interesting stories, to recite and understand jokes and sarcasm, and to express our thoughts, ideas and feelings to others. As children become teenagers, relationships with peers become increasingly dependent on the ability to communicate and connect appropriately. Lunch times are no longer spent playing sports or games. Peer groups instead spend time sitting with each other, sharing stories about their weekends, discussing movies and interests, and helping each other through problems and conflicts. When teenagers are faced with social conflict, they need language skills to explain their perspective, to negotiate or make compromises, and to repair relationships.
Language skills help a person to develop a positive sense of self. To experience success with learning will help a child feel smart, capable and motivated to think about their future ambitions. To experience success with behaviour will help a child feel good, kind, confident and resilient. To experience success with relationships and friendships will help a child to feel likeable, connected and promote a sense of belonging. Understanding a child’s language strengths and difficulties can help those around them to adjust their expectations of the child and modify the way that they communicate with them. The more positive experiences and success that a young person encounters in their day to day communication, the greater their potential for developing positive perceptions of themselves and the world around them.
Brooke Miller – Speech Pathologist and Director