7.1 Introduction

Speaking, listening, and communicating are vital to our ability to connect with the world. A baby’s first words are often cause for celebration. Pointing and gesturing create opportunities for adults to meet a child’s needs and see the resulting satisfaction on the child’s face. In addition to verbal words, there may be sign language, and important pragmatic gestures such as kissing on the cheek when greeting, or raising or lowering one’s eyes. These language exchanges not only foster understanding, but they are also social interactions that may create or strengthen bonds. Unquestionably, the ability to communicate rests upon the ability to express oneself, receive information, and to negotiate the social aspects of communication. In the example of Mark and Ms. Claudia, we see several components of language displayed. We see that Mark is using some words and phrases (hi, look, I did it) as well as communicating his wishes nonverbally through pointing and motioning toward the blocks. Mark also communicated using facial expressions and eye contact.

This chapter will enable each student to:

Illustration of a bird's nest Explain how language is conceptualized.

Illustration of a bird's nest Define the components of language.

Illustration of a bird in flight Outline a children’s language progress on a continuum of development.

Illustration of a bird in flight Distinguish the individual differences that influence language development.

illustration of a branch Explore the ways in which early childhood educators can promote children’s language development


A bird sits in a nest on branches of a tree. The trunk is labeled supportive context. The branch is labeled family/home, community, and school. The nest is labeled reading, language development, and writing.
Figure 7.1 “Nested Literacy Model”

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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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