Vocabulary enrichment for disadvantaged children

Language with its complex and abstract structure is probably the clearest instance of a pure species-specific behavior. Language is the essence of human survival. It is what makes man unique. The faculty of language is central to our conception of mankind. The speech we use makes us human. Language is important in the growing cognitive development of children because language is the means by which man systemizes his perceptions. Through words human beings formulate abstractions, generalizations or thought processes. Words are determined through an individual's experience. Language is the cement of society. It allows people to live, work and play together. Language is very different from communication systems possessed by other forms of life. No other communication system allows its users to reminisce about the past and speculate about the future. The child learns to speak at home. It is in the school that language acquisition is the most important prerequisite to reading, mathematics, social studies and any other subjects. Children’s restricted language may become elaborated through exposure to books, storytelling and structured vocabulary programs. The challenge for educators is to present teaching methods that expand this experience. This means expanding the learning of the structure at the child’s native language or dialect and encouraging the acquisition of standard American English. It involves extending the child's vocabulary of words and meanings. It also includes giving opportunities to use language for inner thought and social communication in ways satisfying to the child and important for success in school. Many school-age children are confused about the formulation of words and word order in sentences. (See more in text.)