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Language Development and Literacy in Children

Language is a form of communication and is essential in the day-to-day activities of men. As a matter of fact, for every child that is born, there is the need to learn the language that is spoken around him or her to also be able to participate in communication processes. However, children have an innate ability to acquire language. This ability helps them to develop language without them putting a conscious effort. It just comes to them naturally. Language development and literacy in children are essential for their growth and human relations skills. This is because humans cannot do without communicating with one another. 

Language is one out of so many forms of communication signifying that not all communication is language. There are other forms of communication such as sign languages, facial or body expressions, and the likes. Children communicate with us right from the day of their birth, not with language but with other forms of communication such as body signs, cries, and so on. We will explore in this article, what language development and literacy are. We will also look at why language development is essential for literacy development in children. Furthermore, we will explore the stages of language and literacy development as well as the importance of literacy development in early childhood. 

Table of Content

What is Language Development? 

Language Development and Literacy in Children
Language development lays the foundation for your child’s reading and writing skills

It’s so beautiful how children were born into this world with no knowledge of the existence of language and in just ten months, they begin to communicate and relate with other people. Our ability to learn a language right from birth is innate. This is why language development is a process. It doesn’t just happen once, it is a gradual process through which children come to understand and communicate language from their early childhood. 

You must know that language development is an essential part of your child’s development as it is the support your child has to communicate. 

Literacy on the other hand is commonly known as the ability to read and write. The opposite of literacy is illiteracy which connotes the inability to read and write. Furthermore, we can say literacy has to do with knowing a specific subject. 

Language development is therefore important because it lays the foundation for the reading and writing skills of your child. In other words, it lays the foundation for your child’s literacy. Language development and literacy in children work hand in hand as the former is what supports your child’s thinking and reasoning abilities. 

Why is Language Development Essential for Literacy Development in Children?

It Supports the Ability of Your Child to Communicate

Communication is a huge part of literacy development in your child. Learning to read and write comes through a process of communication. Your child’s teacher passes a message across while your child receives it. If your child is not well developed in language, he or she might find it difficult to grasp what the teacher is saying. Therefore, language development supports your child’s ability to take in information as well as absorb them. Language development controls your child’s ability to think and reason on the information he or she is receiving as well. It also helps them to build and maintain relationships with other children and adults alike. 

It Lays the Foundation for the Reading and Writing Skills in Children

Learning is more successful when it is from the known to the unknown. Therefore, as your child enters and progresses through the four walls of the classroom, the foundation of language that has been laid for your child will sustain him or her. The home is the first school a child attends and this is the best place to open them up to learning. You must know that language is important as a foundation for the reading and writing skills of your child. What your child is familiar with while communicating with you will be easier for them to comprehend when they are introduced to your children in letters. This is because they already have a literal understanding of the sounds or words that are being introduced to them. 

Stages of Language Development

It has been established that language development plays a vital role in the literacy development of children. Every language is known to have its characteristics and uniqueness. There are, however, four main stages of language development in children. Children acquire their mother tongue in different stages. As a result, in this section, we will explore the four stages of language development. 

Pre Linguistic Stage

This is the first stage and beginning of a child’s language development. It is a very important stage at that too. This stage begins from the birth of a child till when he or she is about seven months old. At this stage, the child expresses different emotions such as distress, happiness, satisfaction, discomfort, wants, and needs, with non-verbal expressions. At the first two months of a baby’s life, he or she expresses some non-reflexive or non-troubling sounds. The next two months of a child’s life open the child up to producing alleviation sounds such as snorts and moans. A child can express happiness by laughing or smiling at this point in his or her life. 

Between the fourth to seventh months of a child’s life, he or she begins to produce sounds that are more like murmurs.

Babbling Stage

At this stage, children produce sounds that partly match their mother tongue. At this stage as well, they produce random sounds in their communications with their parents and/or siblings. They make minimal use of their speech organs at this stage like at the first stage. They produce words like baba… nana… and the likes of easily produced sounds. 

Two-word Stage

Your child is already a year or a year and a half old at this stage of language development. It is at this stage that your child will start producing one or two words as well as using their production capabilities well. 

Telegraphic Stage

At this stage, your child can produce words that pass across primary messages. Your child is about 24 months to 30 months in the telegraphic stage. Also, children at this stage make expressions that aren’t more than two words but they have meaningful characteristics. 

Stages of Literacy Development

There are four stages of literacy development. In this section, we will explore the stages of beginning literacy, early intermediate literacy, intermediate literacy, and early advanced literacy. 

Beginning Literacy

At this stage, children do more listening and receiving to build their vocabulary and confidence. At this stage of literacy, children can build their vocabulary by listening to oral stories and studying drawings as a means of identifying and relating images to their names. They can also be asked to retell oral stories that they have listened to, to build and boost their confidence. You can also tell your child to identify keywords in stories. By doing this, you’re gradually helping them develop their vocabulary. 

Early Intermediate Literacy

Developing receptive and productive skills begin at this stage of literacy. Your child will begin to use one-word utterances to communicate with you. Your child will also make you know his or her wants and needs or reply to a question you’re asking him or her with short phrases. At this stage, your child should be exposed to interacting with others as much as they can and at his or her best. They would make mistakes at this stage, but you must correct their mistakes on time and with compassion. However, encourage their use of language and as much as you want to correct them, do not do that in front of their peers.

Some of the activities that your children can participate in at this stage are as follows: filling in blanks, completing sentences, copying and labeling.

Intermediate Literacy 

Learning at this stage is with increasing accuracy. Children can communicate more efficiently and also learn at a faster speed. children come to a deeper understanding of some concepts that are not tangible. These are what we call abstract concepts. Children can participate in choral or silent reading, dictation as well as arranging words into sentences or paragraphs. 

Early Advanced Literacy 

At this stage, children have a deeper knowledge of words and their cognitive usage. They can now use their developing vocabulary in various contexts or situations as content. At this stage, children can make use of the dictionary and other reference materials. Children can participate in identifying words as well as categorizing words. 

As discussed in the four stages of literacy above, the first two stages have to do with developing a social language while the second two stages have to deal with incorporating the addition of academic language. There is a need for your kid to develop language skills at the social level. This would involve interacting with immediate family members. It is at the fourth stage that children can listen, speak, read and write. 

Importance of Literacy Development in Early Childhood

It is the foundation for all learning

Language development and literacy in children
Literacy development is the foundation for all learning

Learning never stops. It builds over time and it is a gradual process that continues. Therefore, for a strong foundation, there needs to be proper literacy development. Early literacy is from the first three years of a child’s life. It as well supports future language development in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. If a child cannot comprehend words when being spoken to, he or she can not learn. When a child can’t read, he or she can’t learn as well. Your child has to be able to read as well as understand whatever content they want to take in. The ability to read and understand avert frustration in class. Instead, it promotes self-confidence and interest. 

Literacy Makes Us Empathetic

It is not a gainsaying that whatever we take in, reflects in our relationship with others. Exposing your child early enough to literacy helps them understand what is going on around them as well as relate to them. It helps them understand the world and the people around them. Also, it enables us to develop attributes that promote empathy in us. When people have more empathy, the world becomes a more peaceful place. 

It Can Make or Mar Their Future

Children’s literacy nonprofit Reading Partners stated that “students who can’t read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.” This shows that literacy development is paramount to developing and making a future for ourselves. When your child has a solid foundation in early literacy skills, his or her future reading performance would be sound. As your child grows, he or she needs to change from learning to read to reading to learn. 


As discussed above, early literacy is very important for children. As a parent, ensure to help your child develop his or her language skills from their early years. Work with your little one in his or her language and literacy development. As they grow, it’s essential that they also grow in using language to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings as well. Help them to boost their self-confidence and relationship skills with others. Help them to also become successful readers and strong communicators. 

Gone are the days when children cry once it’s time to go to school and leave their mothers. Help your kids to grow an interest in school and books right from home. They need to love school for them to succeed in school. Children who have developed strong language, reading, or interactive skills perform better while at school. They also develop a healthier self-image. There are several ways you as a parent can include reading from different stages of your child’s childhood. Thus, you need to make them enjoy and see reading or learning as a treat and not a chore that they must do. 

At Perfect Angels Learning Center, we believe in the language development and literacy of children. Hence, we help your kid develop their language skills from an early age. For more information about our services, email us at to learn more.