Is language, like food, like food, a basic human need without which a child at a critical period of life can be starved and damaged? Judging from the drastic experiment of Frederick I in the thirteenth century, it may be hoping to discover what language a child would speak if he heard no mother tongue, he told the nurses to keep silent. All the infants died before the first year. But clearly there was more than lack of language here. What was missing was good mothering. Without good mothering, in the first year of life especially, the capacity to survive is seriously affected. Today no such severe lack exists as that ordered by Frederick. Nevertheless, some children are still backward in speaking. Most often the reason for this is that the mother is insensitive to the signals of the infant, whose brain is programmed to learn language rapidly. If these sensitive periods are neglected, the ideal time for acquiring skills passes and they might never be learned so easily again. A bird learns to sing and to fly rapidly at right time, but the process is slow and hard once the critical stage has passed. Experts suggest that speech stages are reached in a fixed sequence and at a constant age, but there are cases where speech has started late in a child who eventually turns out to be of high IQ. At twelve weeks a baby smiles and makes bowel – like sounds; at twelve months he can speak simple words and understand simple commands; at eighteen months he has a vocabulary of three to fifty words. At three he knows about 1,000 words which he can put into sentences, and at four his language differs from that of his parents in born with the capacity to speak. What is special about man‘s brain, compared with that of the monkey, is the complex system which enables a child to commect the sight and feel of, say, a toy – bear with the sound pattern ―toy – bear‖. And even more incredible is the young brain‘s ability to pick out an order in language from the mixture of sound around him, to analyse, to combine and recombine the parts of a language in new ways.
But speech has to be induced, and this depends on interaction between the mother and the child, where the mother recognizes the signals in the child‘s babbling, grasping and smiling, and responds to them. Insensitivity of the mother to these signals dulls the interaction because the child gets discouraged and sends out only the obvious signals,. Sensitivity to the child‘s non – verbal signals is essential to the growth and development of language.
1.The purpose of Frederick I‘s experiment was ____.
A.to prove that children are born with ability to speak
B.to discover what language a child would speak without hearing any human speak
C.to find out what role careful nursing would play in teaching a child to speak
D.to prove that a child could be damaged without learning a language
2.The reason that some children are backward in speaking is most likely that ____.
A.they are incapable of learning language rapidly B.they are exposed to too much language at once
C.their mothers respond inadequately to their attempts to speak D.their mothers are not intelligent enough to help them
3.What is particularly remarkable about a child is that ____.
A.he is born with the capacity to speak
B.he has a brain more complex than an animal‘s
C.he can produce his own sentences
D.he owes his speech ability to good nursing
4.Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?
A.The faculty of speech is inborn in man.
B.The child‘s brain is highly selective.
C.Most children learn their language in definite stages.
D.All the above
5.If a child starts to speak later than others, he will ____in future.
A.have a high IQ
B.be less intelligent
C.be insensitive to verbal signals
D.not necessarily be backward
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