Thursday, 15 December 2016

Morphological Development Of Your Child

Now,What is morphological development you might ask. To better understand it,we will define three terms

Morphology is the part of grammar that is concerned with words and word formation
(O'Grady & Archibald 2012). I love wikipedia's definition which says that it is the study of words,how they are formed and their relationship to other words in the same language.It analyses the structure of words such as stems,root words,prefix,suffix.

Morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of an utterance. There are two kinds of morpheme;free morpheme and bound morpheme.A free morpheme makes complete sense when it stands on its own.Example, car. A bound morpheme does not make sense when it stands on its own.To make meaning,it has to be attached to a free morpheme. Example,
cars. The '-s' in cars is an example of a bound morpheme.on its own,it has no meaning but when attached to 'car',it becomes meaningful,indicating plurality.

A word is the minimum free form in a language.It is the smallest element that can be uttered in isolation with a meaning of its own.


Now lets move on and define morphological development as simply as possible. It is the process by which you child learns to use other forms of a word. At first,the words produced by English speaking children do not have internal morphological structure. That is,they use words in their most basic form. They do not use past tense marker such as -ed. Am sure you have heard a child make a statement such as "i have 'eat' it". They equally omit progressive markers like '-ing'. They equally fail to use plural markers such as '-s'. As they grow,they hear adults use the correct forms and eventually,they learn them.

I have always complained that the English language is too irregular and a bit unpredictable for my taste. For instance,why won't all past forms be denoted with '-ed'. For instance,the past form of 'work' is 'worked' and that of 'run' is 'ran'. why on earth is the past form of 'run' not 'ranned' LOL!!!. Am sure English speaking children share my exasperation too.If not,why would they overgeneralize some word forms.What is over generalization,you might wonder.
It is simply the application of a particular rule to other environments to which that rule does not apply. For instance, a child might learn that to generate the past forms of words,you add '-ed' to the root word  Eg walk -- walked so he thinks that this rule applies to all other words. Little wonder we hear such words as 'bringed,breaked' amongst others.

Usually, children go through three phases to learn how to use the irregular form. Phase 1,2,3 will be represented with A,B,C respectively.
           A          B                 C
          ran        runned        ran
          went      goed           went
          broke     breaked      broke
In  A,this child,let's call her Eno used the correct past form.She probably heard it spoken in her environment so she simply memorized it.When she got to 2years and six months,she learnt that you add '-ed' to words to generate past forms so she went ahead and over generalised it.This is represented in B. In C,she has learnt that there are exceptions to this rule and subsequently learns the correct form.
    This mistake children make tell us alot about how children learn language.This grammatical errors are NOT as a result of imitating what is spoken around them. Children born into families where 'bad' English is never spoken still use this wrong forms.(Fromkin et al 2011).

                                        THE SEQUENCE
     An important result of early work on child language was the discovery that the development of bound morphemes (plural markers,past tense markers,possessives,progressives) and functional categories (determiner-a,an,the,auxillaries-be) occur in an orderly manner that is similar amongst children. They occur in the following order:
1)  First,  children learn how to attach '-ing' to words
2)  There after,they learn to attach '-s' to mark plurality
3) Then they learn how to add '-s', a possesive marker to words.They move from sentences  like "Daddy car" to "Daddy's car"
4) They equally learn how to use articles 'a,the' 
5) They learn how to add 'ed' to words to create past forms.(O'Grady & Archibald 2012)
6) They learn to use the third person singular '-s' and finally,the learn to use auxillary verbs such as 'be'

   photo credit:Rio Mio-My Animated City
I hope you enjoyed your read.for questions,suggestions,please email me at

Monday, 12 December 2016

..And your baby acquires meaning

                                    SEMANTIC DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR CHILD.

Children do not speak randomly.They communicate. Remember,communication is the transfer of information from one person to another. And of course,words are very necessary in communication.

In this post,we will explain how your child learns to attach meaning to words.Simply put,the title of this post can suffice as what semantic development is. It is simply the process by which your darling learns to attach meaning  to the words he hears in his environment.

Once your child is a year and six months, He has an average vocabulary of 50 words.these words are mostly words he uses to refer to people such as his mum,Food items,Some actions such as come,go,see and social words  such as 'bye bye' and 'please' amongst others.processes through which children assign meaning

According to O'Grady and Archibald(2012), at 18 months,A child has an average of 50 words, learning ten words a day. When a child is six, his vocabulary has increased to fourteen thousand words and he learns up to twenty words per day. At seventeen,his vocabulary has increased to sixty thousand. Perhaps you've had this experience; you were away for awhile perhaps a month or two and when you returned, this little boy or girl you know has learnt so o o many new words that you can't help but marvel!! I am a living witness lol!!!. This shows that children learn words  and attach meaning to them at a very rapid rate.
I think it is important to add that children do not merely learn new words and attach some sort of meaning to them just because we taught them.No. The words children hear from us are almost insufficient to account for their rapidly growing vocabulary.

When children are still learning how to attach meaning to words,they generally commit should i say errors?yes, errors. The error of over extension of meaning and under extension of meaning. We will consider them seperately.

Over extension of meaning: This occurs when your child learns a new word and then proceeds to use that new word to refer to other things which that word does not represent.
My lecturer once shared a story of how her grand child saw a photograph of her father with his friends.First, the child pointed at her 'daddy' in the photograph and there after,pointed at all the males in the photograph and equally refered to them as 'daddy'. I have noticed that this is an error common amongst children. Another child refered to all four footed animals both cow,horse,tiger,etc as 'dog'. When my brother was growing up, he refered to all kinds of food simply as 'rai' - rice. Perhaps,i should add that over extension occurs in a kind of pattern. a child would never call his food 'dog' or give his mum the name of his favorite  meal. No. In over extension,a child learns a word which falls under a particular category and uses that term to refer to all other items that fall into that category. My brother used 'rice' to describe all kinds of food. He never used it to describe his toys or humans. Over extensions occur because children have not yet learnt the right word to describe an object or item and/or because they cant recall the appropriate name for an item though the know it so they use the next word that comes to mind. Parents unknowingly prolong over extension by acceptance ie failing to tell the child the correct word (Gruendell J.M 1977). After increasing until a certain point, over extensions diminish over time as the child receives corrective feedback. This feedback most often comes from parents and teachers, who help the child revise his or her word meaning boundaries(Chapman & Johnson,"what is the source of over extension errors in comprehension testing of two year olds?A reply to Fremgen and Fay".Journal of child language. 7:575-578 in

Under extension of meaning: This is the exact opposite of over extension.This is when a child narrows the use of a word.He fails to use a word to refer to other items to which that word apply. For example,a child may learn the word flower in connection to say a rose and fail to extend its meaning to other kinds of flowers (Fernádez & Cairns 2011). Generally, under extensions are not as noticeable as over extensions.

    I hope you had a nice read.its important to me that you do.Like,i always add,its important
    that you are conversant with all these stages of language development if not,if something     is amiss,how would you know??? 
    I'd really love to read all those funny tales of your baby's childhood.Email me at            look forward to hearing from you!!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Phonological Development Of Your Child

                           "A ma ii yarsh"
                        "Eh? what did you say?"
                        "Yarsh.a ma ii it"
                                        My conversation with a two year old English
speaking Nigerian boy expressing his desire to eat rice.

We get very excited when our babies produce their first words.Its even more exciting when they add more words to their rapidly expanding vocabulary.When your child produces a  word for the first time,most times,we are unable to decipher what they are saying.This is because the organs which are responsible for their speech are not fully developed like that of an adult so correct pronunciation of sound is restricted.

         Simply put,phonological development is the different stages or phases your child goes through before he is able to pronounce the sounds which of course make up words of his language correctly.

If you'd remember,the first words you child acquired were words such as "ma,ba,ka,pa".Its usually a combination of a vowel and a consonant. As your child acquires more sounds,he acquires sounds that seen in virtually all human languages. They include sounds like [p] as seen in 'pan', [m] as seen in 'man', [s] as seen in 'sat'. Later,they acquire sounds found just in their languages alone(that is the language they are exposed to).

Phonological development occurs in an orderly manner.First is the acquisition of vowels which begins in the cooing stage.After acquiring vowels,your child goes on to acquire consonants.We will discuss this in detail under manner of articulation and place of articulation

Manner of articulation: This describes the way  in which air is released during sound production.Under manner of articulation,your child produce sounds following this sequence;

Nasals: Nasals are sounds that are produced when air escapes from the nose.Examples of nasal sounds are [m] in 'man', [n] in 'nail' etc. 

Glides :Glides are produced when two speech sounds come close but they don't touch each other so friction is not produced. Eg [w] in 'water'

Stops: In the production of stops,there is a period of total obstruction of airflow due to the firm contact of articulators. This period of obstruction is followed by a sudden  release of airflow.Examples of stops include [p] in 'pat', [b] in 'bat', [k] in 'cat'  

Liquids: In the production of liquids,the tongue causes a partial closure in the mouth. Example of a liquid sound is [r]. Eg 'rain'.

Fricatives: The sounds that belong to these class are produced when articulators come very close that the only space left  for air to escape is very narrow thus,there is a kind of friction as the air escapes which produces a hissing sound. Examples include [s] in 'sit', [f] in 'fish' ,[v] in 'have', [z] in 'zinc'.

Affricate:  An affricate is produced when a stop and a fricative come together. The obstruction is like that of a stop but the air is released in a fricative manner. Examples include [ ʧ ] as in 'church' and [dʒ] as in 'jam'

To show that your child acquires sounds following the order above,I put the example below.its the speech of a two year old.Lets call him Ade. The word on the right side show how he pronounced the word on the left.
                            Sing -->tiŋ  
This data proves what i mentioned above.The first sound in 'sing' is [s] which is a fricative.Ade substituted [t] for [s].At the time of this speech,Ade probably have not learnt how to produce fricatives so he replaces [s], a fricative sound with [t], a stop. Remember that children  produce stops before they produce fricative.

Place of articulation:This refers to the place where a sound is produced. For example [p] is produced  by the coming together of the upper and lower lips(labials).so it is known as a labial sound. Under the place of articulation, your child starts to produce sounds in the following order;

Labials: Examples of labial sounds are [b] in 'bag', [m] in 'man' [p] in 'put'. Notice that the upper and lower lips come together and create an obstruction before their subsequent release.

Velar: Velar sounds are produced when the back of the tongue makes firm contact with the back of the roof of the mouth.You'd observe this when you try producing words like 'kite', 'gun'. The sounds [g] and [k] are velar sounds.

Alveolar:  Alveolar sounds are produced when the tip of the tongue makes contact with the teeth ridge. Try producing 'tin', 'nail', 'den'. So alveolar sounds are [t,d,n,s,z,l].

Palatal: Palatal sounds are produced when the body of the tongue makes contact with the roof of the mouth. Now, pronounce 'yam' slowly. Did you notice the contact? the first sound in the production of yam is represented phonetically as [j]. other examples of [j] sound is seen in 'yes, yatcht,you'.

According to Fromkin et al (2011), the distribution and frequency of a sound in a language can also influence the acquisition of  certain sounds. For example, English speaking children acquire [v] sound very  late. My three year old brother pronounces van as fan. On the other hand, Swedish speaking children acquire [v] sound very early because the swedish language has many words that begin with [v] that are common to the vocabulary of little children. One might say that the [v] sound is fairly common in the English language so why do English speaking children acquire it so late? In fact at age 4,an English speaking child cannot produce the [v] sound if it starts a word or ends a word.He'd either delete or replace it with another word. They can only produce it when it occurs in the middle of a word Eg 'vivacious'. A four year old can only pronounce the second [v] sound in that word that is  -va. This observation made Finegan(2012) to say that frequency of sounds is not the only factor influencing the order children acquire sounds. He said that more influential that frequency is the functional importance of a sound in the phonological system of a language. Example, There is this native language spoken in Malaysia.Children that speak that language learn to produce the [ʤ] sound as seen in the English pronunciation of 'judge'  very early while English speaking children learn to produce this sound very late. This is because of functional load. In that Malaysian language,[ʤ] has a high functional load while it does not in English language.Functional  load simply means that the replacement of a particular sound in a word in that language with another sound can alter the meaning of a word in that language and such words are rampant in that language. For clarity,i will illustrate functional load with an English sound. [b] and [p] have a high functional load in English.

                                         peg      beg
                                             pig        big
                                             pack     back
                                             pin        bin

 We notice that the words have the same form except their initial sounds.We deleted the first sound [p] and replaced it with [b] and lo!, the meaning of the word changed.English language have many more words like this little wonder English speaking children acquire these sounds first. 

When a normal child who is still developing phonologically is unable to produce some sounds,its not as a result of their inability to hear the correct pronunciation in fact,their brain discern the differences but their speech organs are unable to produce them. I came across a very popular experiment carried out by linguists to illustrate this point. I was excited.I was familiar with it and am sure you're too.when my brother was growing up,he'd say "a mma iii fis".That's "I want to eat fish". Most of the time,i'd repeat after him and say "you want to eat fis?" he'd say "No.fis.a mma ii fis". 

Due to their inability to produce sounds correctly,Children modify sounds to correspond with their limited ability.They either substitute or delete.A 2 or 3 year old English speaking child is bound to pronounce 'key' as 'ti'. He replaces [k] with [t]. This is also seen in 'come' which he pronounces as 'tom'. Deletion is seen in his pronunciation of 'spoon' which he calls 'puun'.Here he deletes the initial sound [s]. I have heard a child pronounce 'please' as 'pii'. This child deleted the initial [p] sound and also [l] and [s] sounds respectively. It is very important to point out that  children do not substitute and delete carelessly.they follow an order. Normally,children substitute fricatives and replace them with stops.

WHY is is pertinent for you to know all this?its simply because you need to be conversant with every developmental stage of your child.If you don't have the knowledge,how would you know something is wrong? You wouldn't know till its almost too late. Child care is not all about putting cloths on the back of our children and food on their table.It chiefly involves ensuring the psychological well being of our children. If they are hindered in the area of language,there is a feeling of inadequacy that follows.They feel reluctant to talk and in some cases they don't even grasp all that  is said to them. This post and others that will come up subsequently takes you through the different levels of language acquisition.A "what if" post will also come up to address issues of language disorders..

                                 Remember,no effort or sacrifice can ever be too much for a child..

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Milestones

Most mothers seldom forget the first words their children ever said.Even as adults,our parents or caregivers or anyone that knew us when we were children keep recounting hilarious tales of our childhood to us and of course,our first words are an obligatory part.Now travel back in time,what was the first words you  spoke?have any of your parents or relatives ever told you?LOL!I cant remember mine.Am sure my mum must have told me.I can only remember my brother's first word which was 'mama'.Now,our children don't just develop language over night.Like every other process,it follows a sequence.This post is the first post out of two that will explain how your darling child acquires language which of course plays an important role in his learning process.
          First of all,it might interest you to know that contrary to popular believe,your child DID NOT acquire language because you taught him or because he simply imitated you.NOPE! In as much as there are many theories that seek to explain how children acquire language,the most plausible is the nativists theory which states that children acquire language because they are biologically conditioned to do so. Some other scholars have attributed children's ability to learn language to a device in their brain LAD-Language Acquisition Device which enables them acquire language.
Now lets begin to count the milestones.This should be fun.

0-2 months:This is called the reflexive stage.The sounds your child produce in this stage are mainly biological sounds such as yawning,sucking,hiccups.During this period,your little darling is practicing the use of his vocal organs perhaps to ensure that it works.

2-4 months:This stage is referred to as the cooing proper.Your baby begins to produce vowel like sounds.

4-12 months:This is the babbling stage which is divided into early babbling and late babbling.In early babbling,your child babbles all the sounds in the universe.He babbles a combination of  consonant and vowel sounds.Even deaf children babble at this stage.When your baby gets to eight months,his babbles begin to contain the sounds of the language he is about to acquire.At nine months,deaf children stop babbling because they do not hear themselves or anyone else.

1-1 1\2 years:When your child gets to this age,he now knows that sounds can be used to express meaning,so he begins to use a particular set of sound to express a particular meaning.He might develop a special name for his toy or sibling or even you.When my brother was this age,he called my mum 'maama'.Still in this age,he begins to use one word to express a complex message.My brother would say 'wowa' if he wanted to tell you he is thirsty.Little wonder this stage is called one word stage.

1year6months-1year8months: When your child is this age,he begins to express those meanings that he expressed in one word in two words.this stage is the two word stage.This stage is also called telegraphic speech because the way your child speaks is similar to the way telegraphs are written;short straight to the point sentences.He might see you setting the table for dinner and point to the table at say 'daddy food'(of course he wouldn't pronounce it properly.We will get to this subsequently). He will omit articles such as,the. He will also omit prepositions,plural markers and past tense markers.They mainly use noun verbs and adjectives. It is interesting to note that in as much as your child's vocabulary is limited,he is able to express himself sufficiently and his understanding of language is greater than his production.

2-2 1\2years: Your child learns how to ask question using question tags. Eg,'where  daddy?'.He will also inflect his voice to let you know that a phrase you would have considered a statement is actually a question .Eg, 'see food'.your child will inflect(that is raise the tone of his voice) 'food' so that you will know that he asked a question. Remember when your child was a year plus,he uses one word to express might be feeding him breakfast and once he is full,he shakes his head and says 'no'. But once he gets to this age (two plus),he attaches other words to negation.Rather than saying 'no' when he is full,he will say 'no food' or any other phrase of his choice,

2 1\2 years and above:your child's vocabulary and language use increases and improves vastly.he just keeps improving and improving and..improving on his language.

           Now you should have fun tracking the language development of your child o any child around you.Subsequent posts are coming up detailing how and when your child learns how to pronounce correctly,when he learns to form correct sentences among others.

Do drop your questions and suggestions on the comment box.You can equally mail me on

Saturday, 19 November 2016

...for the exceptional child

Every parents' dream is to have the model child;the child who excels in his parent ever wants to have or wishes for a child who is academically deficient hence when they have such a child,it comes as a huge shock.the question is "what do you do"? what do you do when you discover your child cannot perform like his classmates/age mates?what do you do when his teachers complain that he cannot read or write is usually absentminded in class?what is your reaction?do you scold him severely and threaten to deny him some privileges?do you compare him with his siblings who are excelling in their academics or do you simply fire the previous home tutor and hire a 'better' one? what exactly do you do?
        it is amusing that we have children and when they are of age enroll them in schools and yet we dont have a knowledge of  the learning process.unfortunately,even some teachers dont.but why leave your child's welfare to  the teacher alone?its your primary responsibility!
        my interest in children and learning disorder began the day i casually picked up The Guardian newspaper and turned to  my favorite column the girl whispherer. he wrote on dyslexia.though i could not fully comprehend all,i understood even to remember my primary school.primary 5 precisely.i remembered a classmate who couldn't do his sums,read nor write.i remember how our teacher would ask him to stand and read,i remembered the look of defeat on his face;without trying he already knew he had failed.our class teacher would flog him as though she was looking forward to it after all she never expected him to read it anyway.i remembered him taking his sit, head bowed and we the 'smart' ones will always exchange a giggle and read with flourish.i felt come no one made any special effort to help him?why didnt anyone care to discover why he couldnt perform like the rest of us?
   I got into the university of portharcourt to study mass communication but alas!,uniport combines it with linguistics.i wanted to work with a radio or Tv or magazine,i am going to be the Aisha Bello or Kehinde Young-Harry of my time what has linguistics got to be with any of that?i disliked linguistics without giving it a chance.the negative things my senior colleagues said about linguistic courses didnt help matters.It was pertinent that i did well in all my courses both linguistics and communication courses so i had to study hard and in the process,i began to like linguistics though i hated to admit my second year,i did courses on speech acquisition and learning disorders and i was taken back to that article in The Guardian newspaper and the flame was reignited and it has burned in an all consuming manner ever since.i cant control its intensity nor heat.after a whole lot of soul searching,anxiety,worries,questions and studies,i took the wobbly step of starting my blog.the aim of this blog is to provide insight on your child'`s learning process amongst other things such as speech acquisition,child psychology and solutions to challenges in learning your child may have.this blog is simply about your child.insights from scholarly articles will be used to further direct you.
      Every child deserves happiness.every child deserves a chance to lead a normal well balanced life.every child should stand a chance.the childhood stage is a very tender and formative period that influences greatly they kind of adult your child will be.may it never be said that your child was never happy,never excelled and regards his childhood as traumatic because you didnt have the necessary knowledge,because you failed to read...