A Fascination with Language Acquisition

A Fascination with Language Acquisition

My love affair with language acquisition started to hot up when I was 16. Instead of taking English Literature A’ Level I took English Language. The careers officer told me that if I was interested in journalism (I was) as a career that this would be the more relevant option. I was just glad I didn’t have to analyse Shakespeare texts for another two years.

English Language A Level??!?

Over the next two years I studied the history of the English Language. Some monk named Bede popped up a fair bit. We wrote articles in different styles, we learnt grammar from scratch. Quite a shock to get to 16 and not understand why a sentence is constructed as it is – very enlightening. If you fancy learning more I recommend anything by David Crystal. What stuck in my head most was Language Acquisition (Chomsky vs Piaget / Genetics vs environment), Phonetics and Discourse Analysis.

The obsession starts with language acquisition

There was a nursery at the Sixth Form College and we got to sit in with the kids with tape recorders (yes ancient) and record and learn from how they responded to questions and conversed with each other. I couldn’t get enough. Little would I know how much this whole area would come to absorb my life when 15 years later I went to work at The Makaton Charity Then leave to build my own business around a language development software platform called MyChoicePad. With my next venture Iris Speaks I want to raise awareness and encourage the general public to re/discover and enjoy language and communication.

Watch and learn

If you are as fascinated by me on how our brains deal with language acquisition or maybe you’ve got a little one at home or a grandchild and are amazed at how fast they develop. Then I really recommend you give yourself 20 minutes break to watch this TED talk. It combines by loves for language acquisition and tech.

MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language — so he wired up his house with video cameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son’s life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch “gaaaa” slowly turn into “water.” Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn.

Deb Roy: The birth of a word

If you’re interested in finding out more check out our free tailored 10 part inbox speech and language therapy courses. Designed by our Iris Speaks Experts to help your family on their speech and language journey. Sign up here!

Info Box: Who benefits from Speech and Language Therapy?

Speech and language therapy benefits people of all ages, for example:

Infants: SLTs support premature babies and infants with conditions such as cerebral palsy, cleft palate and Down syndrome from very early in life who have difficulties with drinking, swallowing and early play and communication skills.

Children: SLTs support children with primary speech, language and communication difficulties, such as stammering, as well as speech, language and communication difficulties that are secondary to other conditions such as learning difficulties and hearing problems.

Adults with learning difficulties: SLTs support adults who have developmental conditions such as learning disabilities, autism and Down syndrome.

Adults: SLTs support adults with communication and/or swallowing difficulties as a result of medical conditions, such as stroke, head and neck cancer, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Source: RCSLT


The Power of Your Voice in Life

The Power of Your Voice in Life

If you run your own business, or lead a team in a large corporate or maybe have a growing brood at home you will have experienced many times people not listening to you. Using your voice and being able to articulate yourself clearly is the key to being understood, building leadership skills, getting cooperation from angst-ridden teens.

Social communication is one of the areas that speech and language therapists help people with. The popularity of The Kings’s Speech and the coverage of broadcast journalist Nick Robinson getting his voice back after cancer treatment has given much needed press to the amazing work of speech and language therapists. It’s a profession little understood until you or a loved one is in the position that they need to see one.

The role of speech and language therapists

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) provide life-improving treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking or swallowing. So it goes a lot further than stammering and pronunciation!

Nearly 20% of the population may experience communication difficulties at one point in their lives.

Source: RCSLT

Effective social communication is an essential part of establishing your own identity and being understood if you are finding people are not listening then there are a few tips you can pick up to improve.

Listen to me!

“The human voice. It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the whole world probably, it’s the only one that can start a war or say I love you. Yet many people have the experience that when they speak people don’t listen to them. Why is that? How can we speak powerfully to make a number of changes in the world?”

Julian Treasure has a wonderful TED talk on just this subject. He goes onto explain the 7 deadly sins of speaking

  1. Gossip
  2. Judging
  3. Negativity
  4. Excuses
  5. Complaining
  6. Exaggeration
  7. Dogmatism

We need to avoid these if we want to be listened to more.

He then goes onto speak about the four cornerstones if we want our speech to be powerful and contribute towards changing the world.

  1. Honesty
  2. Authenticity
  3. Integrity
  4. Love

It’s a really powerful talk – useful for all those of us who rely on our spoken word to get us ahead in the world. Check it out:

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

If you’re interested in finding out more check out our free tailored 10 part inbox speech and language therapy courses. Designed by our Iris Speaks Experts to help your family on their speech and language journey. Sign up here!