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What Factors Affect Language Development in Childhood?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many factors can affect language development in childhood, including environmental factors and lack of proper education. Hearing loss can have a major impact on how children develop language, for example, because children with hearing impairment often have difficulty comprehending speech and forming words because they cannot hear how the language is spoken. Psychological or emotional issues may also negatively affect language development.

The environment in which someone was raised can adversely influence their language development. Children who suffer from physical or emotional abuse in the home are more likely to be developmentally delayed in language skills. Those who have been neglected or deprived of social interaction may also be delayed in cognitive development.

Intellectual disorders, such as mental retardation, can affect language development in children of all ages. Brain injury at birth or other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can also have an effect. Although schizophrenia in children generally causes delusions and disorganized thoughts, language development may also be influenced by this condition. This process may be negatively affected by emotional problems or attention deficit disorder as well.

One of the most recognized disorders affecting childhood language development is autism and autism spectrum disorders. Many children with these conditions will not learn to speak at a normal age, and left untreated or undiagnosed, some may never speak or form proper words and sentences. Through professional intervention and therapy, however, many autistic children are able to learn adequate language skills.

Children with deformed or abnormal facial structures may have delayed language skills. A cleft lip and palate will make it difficult to speak, causing problems. Speech impediments, such as speaking with a lisp, may also affect this process.

When a child is raised in a multilingual environment, he may experience a delay in language development or have poor language skills. If there are several languages being spoken in the home, the child may not grasp his primary language, or he may confuse the meanings of certain words. Some children do exceptionally well when exposed to a second language, however, resulting in above average skills.

Certain factors can positively influence language development in childhood. Some children who receive individualized attention and education may develop above average skills. Tutoring a child in language can often be of benefit as well. Children who are spoken to often do well with language development.

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Discussion Comments
By anon337157 — On Jun 03, 2013

@post 3: Yes, it would be beneficial for your daughter to have both languages, yours and the nanny's, provided that your daughter is a normal child, with no neurological abnormalities, and is not deaf or autistic.

By SarahGen — On Mar 09, 2013

I heard that having a caretaker at home who speaks a different language can be very beneficial for language development. Is this true?

Will my daughter become fluent in two languages if we have a nanny at home several hours everyday who speaks a different language?

By burcinc — On Mar 08, 2013
@turkay1-- I'm not an expert, but I've heard that babies begin to notice and listen to speech even before they're born. After they're born, they slowly start imitating what they hear and will have a vocabulary of at least several thousand words before they're four or five years old.

If a child isn't doing this, there must be a problem. I don't think it's possible to figure out what the issue is without a physical, diagnostic testing and a psychological evaluation.

For example, my sister-in-law passed away when my nephew was three. My nephew was very distressed about her absence and even though he could speak before, he refused to do so for six months after that. Only with therapy and immense love and attention from all family members were we able to get him to speak again. His language development was fine, he just didn't want to speak.

By candyquilt — On Mar 07, 2013

If a child doesn't speak, does it mean that there is a problem with language development? What is advised for such children?

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