92Y Wonderplay Early Childhood Learning Conference:
Learning to Talk is Child’s Play
Teachers College, Columbia University
Lydia Soifer did not hesitate to recreate experiences necessary for teachers to relate to children who are acquiring a language. From the beginning of the session to the end, she engaged the audience through her lively spirit and humorous, but meaningful, anecdotes. Before Teachers College, play did not hold such a high value in my personal idea of early childhood education. Upon first learning about the different kinds and stages of play in early childhood development, I began to realize its true significance. Soifer explained children’s language development and how teachers and caregivers can detect disabilities very early on through play. A particularly interesting example mentioned was of a young boy, about 2.5 years old, who was still putting novel objects in his mouth. As a new teacher, it was remarkable to learn about how this action was out of the ordinary for a child that age. Through that example, Soifer explained that the young boy was not yet ready to play a certain way and therefore not ready to acquire specific parts of language.
As one of the only person in the session who spoke an Austroasiatic language (Vietnamese), I was chosen to say a few sentences as an example of what a child may feel like when learning language. Another participant spoke Hebrew and I immediately felt like there was a wall dropped between us. Because I am more familiar with Spanish (although I don’t understand it well), I never noticed the language barrier to cause a problem. With the Hebrew example, I was able to better take on a child’s perspective in language acquisition.