Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Do Little Kids Hear Anyway??

When I hear small children repeating new words as they learn to speak, I would love to know and comprehend more about the process of what they hear and how they translate it in their brains before saying new words themselves.

I thought of it the other day when I heard a very young boy saying the word "library" and he pronounced it "libary".  So many children I have met begin by saying it that way.  My own son did as well.  Is it that our ears aren't sufficiently fined tuned yet to hear that first "r" or is it because it isn't a natural reflex to connect the "b" and the "r" together when we are learning to speak?

My own son struggled with two words in particular.  He struggled with them until he started school.  The words were "magazine", which he pronounced "mazagine", inverting the positions of the "g" and "z", and "piano", which he pronounced "prano".  When he turned 6 and was still mispronouncing them it took some intensive work by his dad and I to help him say them properly.  Was it force of habit that caused him to continually mispronounce those two words until we started working with him, or was it something in his hearing that wasn't computing what was being said?

For some reason I find such things to be very interesting. 

I'll get a life tomorrow.


chrith e. said...

Someone I knew who worked with speech impaired kids told me that a child's ears are attuned to learn different sounds at different ages. If something (like an ear infection) interferes with the child's hearing at that stage, then the child learns to replicate the sound the muddled sound they actually heard. The brain marks that sound as 'got it,' stops hearing that particular sound in a learning way and moves on to the next. So years later the child is till reproducing the incorrect sound, or combination of sounds, and doesn't realize anything is amiss. To change that, the mistake has to be brought to their attention--continually as you may have noticed--and the child has to practice, practice, practice.
I spent a good five years in speech therapy myself and was quite shocked just recently when I learned I still have a slight lisp. I don't hear it but it is definitely there.

Susan said...

Interesting....I have never noticed your lisp at all. Maybe when I first net you, but I really don't remember it. You sound fine to me.

chris e. said...