Language allows communication – with self and with others. Thinking and self-awareness associated with internal thought often includes the use of language. Thoughts, ideas, information and knowledge are often communicated with others externally, through the use of language. Some communicate using more than one language. There are those who are multilingual, reflecting their cultural experiences and opportunities to learn to communicate, using a variety of different languages.
Language is used internally to think, to formulate ideas, develop emotional literacy and to dream. Externally, through communication with others, language can be used to share, to negotiate and to develop plans with others. In this increasingly globalised world, being able to communicate through the use of more than one language is greatly valued. Any languages learned in early childhood, especially those that are referred to as a 'mother tongue', must be maintained through continual use and practise of that language, lest the language be eroded and forgotten, through disuse.
The acquisition of any language develops through a certain pattern: progressing from functional to abstract language; the use of language to express humour and to think, prior to the development of specialised language associated with specific fields and topics. Each subject requires the acquisition of language that is specific to that area, in order to read, understand and communicate about a certain field of knowledge. The use of jargon, idioms and culturally-based humour can act as a short-cut in communication, including some, while simultaneously excluding others.
Thoughts and spoken language are critical ways to initially test out and develop a language; however it is through reading that the use of language really accelerates and develops. Reading, whether for pleasure or to gain topic-specific information, provides an invaluable opportunity to increase language, broaden ideas and build knowledge. Modelling reading, especially within the family, creates an expectation that reading is the norm; that reading is a pathway to attain knowledge and further one's education in both formal and informal ways. Being able to read – although recognised as a difficult (and in some cases, impossible) undertaking for those with a language-based learning disability - builds knowledge and enriches awareness.
Locating the time to read frequently from different sources, about a range of topics and for a variety of purposes is critical to the development of language skills and knowledge acquisition. Reading enables additional learning and enriches education; reading can help to formulate and disseminate ideas, initiate discussion and shape the future. The use of language, through frequent thinking, speaking and reading, improves educational outcomes.
© Michele Juratowitch