In the early years of a child’s life, language development plays a significant role in laying the foundations to all social interactions. The development of language is closely associated with and supports cognitive and brain development (Raisingchildren.net.au).
Therefore, language development in early childhood is of great importance in the early years of education. According to RaisingChildren.net.au language and literacy development in the first eight years are the most significant. The steps that it encourages you to take should be followed to ensure that your child or children in your care develop the language and communication skills they need.
Research indicates that lack of language development in children can lead to the following:
- Academic difficulties;
- Learning disabilities;
- Shyness and social difficulties;
- Anxiety disorder and;
- Behavioural problems and ADHD.
The following will show you how to promote language development in children when integrating technology in early childhood education today.
Literacy and Language development with Technology
In the 21st century in a society that is continuing to develop new and emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), literacy and language development in early childhood education has evolved to include the new literacies that is brought on by the new technologies.
Today, the power of ICT to support language development in children means that it can be achieved with the use of audio, rich media and even with the support of all types of quizzes (www.elearningindustry.com). These are just some technologies that have added a whole new dimension to the reading experiences for children.
When you choose to use technology in language development activities, you should first adhere to the key principles of technology in early childhood education. This applies to whether you want to use technology in preschool or kindergarten in the early years. They include:
- Ensure that they have an educational purpose.
- Encourage collaboration.
- Integrate with other aspects of the curriculum (ICT is not to be used in isolation).
- Ensure that the children is in control (to develop ICT capability alongside literacy and language development in early childhood education).
- Choose applications that are transparent.
- Avoid applications containing violence or stereotyping.
- Be aware of health and safety issues.
- Ensure the educational involvement of parents.
So Information and Communication Technology and language development work quite well together, but what are some language development activities that incorporate ICT?
The ICT tools in early childhood education that can support literacy and language development in early childhood education include:
- Multi-link headphones;
- Digital cameras;
- CCTV cameras;
- Tape recorders;
- Telephones (even mobile phones).
All of these will promote language development in children.
Using digital cameras in simple games can focus on conversations and interactions such as ‘taking turns’. You could perhaps show a group of children a digital camera and then allow them explore and control it for themselves. This can encourage all kinds of purposeful exchanges and negotiations.
Encourage the children to make puppets of a familiar story and use the puppets to retell the story in a puppet theatre. Help a child to record the performance with the camcorder and use the recording in circle time for further discussion (Kennington and Meaton in Price, 2009).
Talking books is just one way that ICT can promote language development by combining speech and words. Such ICT tools in early childhood can reinforce the link between written and spoken text. At times they contain a combination of text and pictures with the computer reading the text.
Even the simple computer can be a tool for literacy and language development in early childhood education. For example, they can provide a powerful focus in role plays. In the real life of young children, there is a computer on every desk so using a computer in a role (with or without specific software) can engage the child in which information is collected or received. A mobile phone can be a great substitute.
Though I don’t approve of drill and practice software for the purpose of literacy and language development they are good for child’s beginning knowledge of phonics.
Mobile apps is another way technology and language development meld together nicely. You can find more about how technology can support literacy and language development here:
Strategies and Software for Language Development
Software for Language and Literacy development in early childhood
One of the best and most affordable software which you can use for language development in early childhood is the word processor. Why? It makes explicit links between related knowledge, skills and understanding.
Word processing supports language and literacy development at all levels of learning as a wide range of sentence-level literacy activities can be facilitated.
Many also come with text-to-speech capabilities and 'talking' word processors enable increased interaction between a child and a word processor does indeed carry some of the characteristics of conversation, in which the child responds to what is being said.
Open-ended creative software such as drawing and painting programs like MS Paint can generate a lot of discussions as they create images. You can upload images which they can add captions to with it as well.
Teaching Strategies for Literacy and Language Development in Early Childhood
Strategies used for language and literacy development in early childhood and ICT capability are the same:
- Use computers for one-to-one work between the adult and the child or for paired collaborative work. This is good for small group discussions.
- Whole-class teaching - you can demonstrate literacy and ICT skills easily using this method with the help of a digital projector.
- Place ICT areas on the edge of the carpeted or group areas.
- When working one-on-one, introduce basic ICT skills of computer use well as providing contexts for a wider discussion. Doing this will provide you with a baseline assessment of their ICT capabilities in determining opportune moments for intervention.
- Ask a child to type out on a word processor a sentence from one of their favourite stories.
- Check to see if they are actually learning the ideas and skills you have planned.
- As children create things on the screen, their talk will be about what is going on and what they are trying to achieve. As the activity is more creative, the language will be more creative too. This will provide you with a good insight into the children’s linguistic abilities and you will be able to help develop their vocabulary and their speaking and listening skills.
- When you work alongside the children on a computer it provides you with a great opportunity to model the effective use of software and management of programs. Most importantly, you will model the appropriate behaviour when working collaboratively.
Free Online PD for Early Childhood Educators
Integrating Technology in ECE