Is language, like food, like food,a basic human need without which a child at a critical period of life can bestarved and damaged? Judging from the drastic experiment of Frederick I in thethirteenth century, it may be hoping to discover what language a child wouldspeak if he heard no mother tongue, he told the nurses to keep silent.
All the infants died before thefirst year. But clearly there was more than lack of language here. What wasmissing was good mothering. Without good mothering, in the first year of lifeespecially, the capacity to survive is seriously affected.
Today no such severe lack existsas that ordered by Frederick. Nevertheless, some children are still backward inspeaking. Most often the reason for this is that the mother is insensitive tothe signals of the infant, whose brain is programmed to learn language rapidly.If these sensitive periods are neglected, the ideal time for acquiring skillspasses and they might never be learned so easily again. A bird learns to singand to fly rapidly at right time, but the process is slow and hard once thecritical stage has passed.
Experts suggest that speech stagesare reached in a fixed sequence and at a constant age, but there are caseswhere speech has started late in a child who eventually turns out to be of highIQ. At twelve weeks a baby smiles and makes bowel – like sounds; at twelvemonths he can speak simple words and understand simple commands; at eighteenmonths he has a vocabulary of three to fifty words. At three he knows about1,000 words which he can put into sentences, and at four his language differsfrom that of his parents in born with the capacity to speak. What is specialabout man’s brain, compared with that of the monkey, is the complex systemwhich enables a child to commect the sight and feel of, say, a toy – bear withthe sound pattern “toy – bear”. And even more incredible is the young brain’sability to pick out an order in language from the mixture of sound around him,to analyse, to combine and recombine the parts of a language in new ways.
But speech has to be induced, andthis depends on interaction between the mother and the child, where the motherrecognizes the signals in the child’s babbling, grasping and smiling, and respondsto them. Insensitivity of the mother to these signals dulls the interactionbecause the child gets discouraged and sends out only the obvious signals,.Sensitivity to the child’s non – verbal signals is essential to the growth anddevelopment of language.
1. The purpose of Frederick I’sexperiment was ____.
A. to prove that children are bornwith ability to speak
B. to discover what language achild would speak without hearing any human speak
C. to find out what role carefulnursing would play in teaching a child to speak
D. to prove that a child could bedamaged without learning a language
2. The reason that some childrenare backward in speaking is most likely that ____.
A. they are incapable of learninglanguage rapidly
B. they are exposed to too muchlanguage at once
C. their mothers respondinadequately to their attempts to speak
D. their mothers are notintelligent enough to help them
3. What is particularly remarkableabout a child is that ____.
A. he is born with the capacity tospeak
B. he has a brain more complexthan an animal’s
C. he can produce his ownsentences
D. he owes his speech ability togood nursing
4. Which of the following can beinferred from the passage?
A. The faculty of speech is inbornin man.
B. The child’s brain is highlyselective.
C. Most children learn theirlanguage in definite stages.
D. All the above
5. If a child starts to speaklater than others, he will ____in future.
A. have a high IQ B. be lessintelligent
C. be insensitive to verbalsignals D. not necessarily be backward