Offering 0pen and Honest Professional Advice
Gunn (2017) claimed that we all have the fluency of a Ph.D. academic in our native language. A talented pianist can make a difficult piece of music appear as simple to play as, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Speaking a language is the fastest cognitive skill the brain can apply. It requires a vast amount of practice to establish and maintain fluency in it.
The feature of native language is that it resides on the tip of our tongue and the point of our ears. It essentially exists as an integral part of our bodies, body as much as barking is to a dog. Oral language is a natural skill. Children are biologically primed to acquire it. Reading Is a biologically secondary skill. Children are not biologically primed to learn it.
The problem with learning any language is that they have not been developed from a learning perspective. Languages are designed to be spoken rapidly and distinctly heard. The English language contains a cocktail of older languages embedded into it.
People do not appreciate that it takes thousands of hours to learn a language and retain it. Children's early native language learning is structured, and we had an active involvement in it. Mothrees has a vital role in developing it also. We do not remember how difficult and how long it takes to learn a new language because we were too young to remember it.
There is golden era of language development from birth to around five years of age when most children will have developed basic oral language fluency in their native language, which will have arisen because they will have been drowned in their language as an integral part of their everyday lives. Research now illustrates children's development postnatal language predominantly in the first 18 months of life creates the phonological roots of their language development.
We need to learn our oral native language to survive. Although very young children learn languages like sponges, they are slow learners.
Children will need to break down their fluent aural language when they go to school so they can more intensively develop their literacy skills. Learning difficulties arise when the written representation and sound of words do not match.
Learning is a process of cognitive growth. Synapses, neural links need to be grown in the brain. Languages are physically grown in the brain into basic fluency, automaticity and finally, sub-conscious applications of it.
Languages needs to be regularly used, watered to develop and keep them fluent. It is like growing plants in a desert. Every time we hear language we are refreshing it.
Speakers can lose their native language if they do not use it sufficiently, especially when they move to a country where they need to use another language to live their everyday lives. The process learning a new language is like growing a new spelling to replace a word spelt incorrectly, but the magnitude of learning a new language will be much greater.
It is more difficult to retain languages that are not grown from birth because strong cognitive language roots are grown in the brain from birth. Children will be much more intensively bathed in their native language with the intensive support of their parents. The more languages are used, the more fluent and secure their language fluency will become.
Language fluency will always be a matter of degree. An interesting feature of bilingualism is that speakers can have balanced fluency, equal fluency in each language, but one will normally be the dominant language. The balance can change over time.
Most people fail to understand how complex language are. It is much easier to receive a language, listen to it or read it, than to create, speak and write it. This is because receiving a language does not require constructional skills. This is why reading will improve children's writing and speaking skills.
The problem with aural language is that it is abstract, we do not clearly hear the ingredients of the language sounds. When learners develop literacy skills, they will develop a greater awareness of the ingredients of sounds that are embedded into words and grammatical organisation.
Literacy allows them to recognise the common sounds in words, such as the phonemes and syllables, which they can then apply to other words, aurally and spelling. This makes new words easier to learn. It also develops an understanding of grammar, which will enable them to apply it more accurately.
The difficulty in all language learning arises is processing the irregularities, such as spellings which do not match the applied spoken sounds. We say 'u' but we spell as 'you'. Many of these irregularities arise because language is the fastest skill human beings can apply. Native languages have eroded to allow them to be applied at speed.
These irregularities tend to arise with the commonly used, high-frequency words in all languages, especially verbs. They create difficulty for learners because they can only be learnt by rote memorisation.
Written language needs to be visually explicit to be fluently read. This is why it is not always appropriate to shorten them to match the shortened word sounds. We all say, sound 'we're', but write 'we are' for instance.
The interesting feature of our fluent language is that we are so familiar with it that we apply irregularities with comfort, without even noticing them, but we can experience difficulty when we attempt to write them. Irregularities are the curse of learning all new languages.
When we were young, we would have applied regularities to the regularities. This is referred to as over-generalisation. This is the prerequisite preparation for the irregularities to be applied
There are more irregularities in certain languages than others. They are the curse of learning a new language. English is a very irregular language in comparison with Italian and German, for instance.
School Language Development
Children will have developed a fluent oral language capability by around the age of five. They will need to break down their fluent language to develop their literacy skills. They will need to learn the ingredients of the language.
Gunn (2010) defined language fluency as being able to hear someone saying something nasty behind our backs and seeing signs, automatically knowing what they mean without thinking about it.
Most children will be able to orally communicate through their native language, even if it is no entirely accurate, because they need to use it to live their everyday lives. It is all around them. They will be able to read and write at basic level, but developing fluent literacy will be a matter a degree , especially reading that is key to developing writing skills. Modern children are reading less for pleasure than they need to.
Although very young children's working memory is extremely limited, their learning of their native language is develop from the initially word developing into chunks of language. Working memory has a significant impact upon children's development of literary skills, because they require multitasking to apply. Children, who read aloud need to decode words into sounds, understand their meaning and comprehend what is said.
If children cannot read 90% of the words that they read fluently, they will not learn to read from what they are practising, and they need to develop 95% fluency reading for general learning. This reflects the fact that learners will need to think above what they are reading to effectively learn anything.
There is ever increasing evidence that children very early language development from birth has a very powerful influence on their future reading ability. The golden era of language development cannot be revisited. Reading fluency requires thousands of hours to develop.
The interesting feature of language learning is that second language learning is essentially a chronic form, a deficiency of a native language capability that normally need to be learnt formally. Young children need to engage in a similar pure cognitive process as adult learners learn a new language, but they acquire it in more concrete, applied, natural gradual way.
Older learners will have developed the core language process, such as reading skills, but they will still need to grow, practice to apply them with fluency in their new language. Reading is not developed naturally. The greatest problem in the school system is developing literacy. It requires a vast amount of time, thousands of hours, to develop them.