It is correct to speak casually

Young children learn in many ways - but they always learn in context and, best of all, with others. Educators need specialist knowledge and sensitive attention to guide the children. The magazine of the German Youth Institute,Impulses, spoke to the educationalist Andrea Sens about language acquisition in kindergarten and the problem of correcting.

DJI Impulse: What should educational professionals know about language education?

Andrea Sens: Language acquisition is not only about pronunciation and grammar, but also about the processes of social-communicative and linguistic-intellectual development. Only those who have a broad level of knowledge about this can do meaningful linguistic educational work. For example, it is not just the number of words a child can speak that is decisive, but what meaning they associate with the words. In order to be able to understand their meaning step by step, children need many sensual experiences with the world. Educators should also be able to assess the language skills of the children. To do this, they need to know strategies for language acquisition. For example, if a child says, "I've eaten it all," it is an indication that the child has begun casually engaging with rules of word formation. Because as soon as children discover a linguistic rule, they apply it mercilessly. This is not a mistake, but a great step forward.

DJI Impulse: So it would be wrong to correct the child?

Sens: Explicitly correcting young children does not help them in language acquisition. Because children are not aware that they are learning a language. You learn them casually through meaningful social interactions. They learn it in order to achieve something with language. It is known from numerous studies that parents intuitively support this process when they turn to their child in a loving and interested manner. Mothers respond just right when they casually provide corrective feedback. To stay with the example, say: "Great that you ate everything."

DJI Impulse: What does this mean for everyday life in kindergarten?

Sens: Skilled workers need a sensitive attitude towards dialogue and should sensitize themselves to the possibilities of dialogue in everyday kindergarten life. In contrast to everyday family life, linguistic educational processes often take place within the framework of the children's group. That is why day-to-day day-to-day daycare must be systematically screened for language-learning situations. This can also show that it is sometimes the two minutes spent at the changing table that enable a very intensive language learning situation.