The aim of the study was to develop a conceptualized model that will enhance language acquisition of children between 0 and 3 years. Language is a use of words and symbol to convey message, or communication. Generally, from birth to the age of four months children express their needs through crying and are soothed by the sound of voices or by low rhythmic sounds. When adults talk to children, children later imitate adult’s tongue movements and start to make sounds, coos and gurgles. Providing children with developmental stimulation and exposing them to learning opportunities increases their cognitive and social-emotional skills/abilities. Strategies to enhance language development are fundamental in children and can reduce many literacy related problems in later childhood. The objectives of the study are: to describe activities done by caregivers to influence language development; to identify factors that influence language development; to describe the importance of language development and to explain the disorders that are associated with language development. This study was qualitative in nature and it utilised an explorative design. This research design enabled the researcher to investigate the nature of acquisition comprehensively as well as the development of language and other factors that are related to it. The study was conducted at Vhembe District Municipality. Three villages were selected, namely Tshikuwi, Tshirolwe and HaMatsa villages, which are found in Makhado Municipality under Limpopo Province, South Africa. Purposive sampling was used to sample participants for the study. The individuals selected were those judged to have certain special characteristics as well as the ability to provide in-depth information for the purpose of the study. Thirty participants were selected to participate in the study. The semi-structured face to face interview and the interview guide with open-ended questions were used for data collection. Pre-testing of the interview guide was done to check if the guide would produce the expected results, three women from three different villages were selected for pretesting. All questions in the interview guide were addressed during data collection. Collected data were transcribed and analysed using thematic content analysis. The study adhered to the following research ethics: informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, voluntary participation, no harm to the participants and dissemination of results.
The study revealed that language is an important tool which is used to convey information from one person to the other. The findings indicate that language helps children to communicate and relate with other people. Language was also explained as a tool which is used to educate children, either at school or at home. The study shows that when children are learning language, they will also be stimulating their reasoning, thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition, it was also indicated that cognitive development reduces problems such as poor language development, a low self-esteem and isolation. The findings of this study show that there are a number of activities that can be used by caregivers and parents to foster the development of language in children. Those activities include, communicating with a child, reading of books, watching TV, naming of objects and explaining meaning of words. The study also identified several environmental factors that can be used to foster the development of language in children. The following environmental factors were identified in the study: communication, parental level of education, home socioeconomic status, caregiver’s personality and the availability of other children in the family. Lastly, the findings show that there are many disorders that may affect the development of language in children. The language disorders that the study identified include expressive language disorder, dyslexia, and inability to understand spoken. However, the study also reveals that these disorders may be treated. The findings of this study lead to the development of a conceptualized model to facilitate language acquisition in children between 0 and 3 years was developed. The meaning of one concept, namely reinforcement was explained in detail, in order for users of the model to understand its operational definition in the model. Reinforcement was explained because it has a diversity of meanings. The model enabled the researcher to create a link between research and what is happening in a society. Model validation was done to verify if the developed model relates to practical life, research and language development. The model for this study was validated for its applicability and usability. The drafted model was given to psychologists, speech therapists and parent to determine its usability and applicability.
Keywords: language, language acquisition, language development model, language disorders.