Written By: Pang Chi Wah, Certified Educational Psychologist, New Horizons Development Centre

Parents expect their children to learn to speak, and the feeling of their children “opening their mouths” for the first time is something that only parents who have been parents can understand. Parents want their children to start talking as soon as possible and do everything they can to guide their children to speak. While oral training is important for the development of speech, parents should not neglect auditory training because it is an important prerequisite for language training.

Relationship between Auditory Stimulation and Speech Expression

Listening and expression, reception and output, are closely related and complement each other. In the early childhood stage, if a child’s reception is not sufficient, it has a direct impact on the amount of output. I give a more extreme example for analysis. People with hearing impairment have difficulties in speech expression, but this is not due to problems with their oral muscles or related abilities but to the lack of auditory input. Without the verification and comparison of sound content, even though the mouth is developing normally, there is no &”inventory” and therefore no “supply”. Therefore, parents should pay attention to whether they are providing their children with adequate  auditory stimulation. 

Diversified auditory stimulation 

Some parents may say, “Of course I know this, and I try to output a lot of sound to my child: I often talk to my child, tell stories, describe my child’s surroundings, etc., and I use different languages to do so. While this is ideal for auditory stimulation, the content is rich but similar in nature – it is all verbal. In fact, auditory reception can be very diverse, and music, for example, is a material that can help improve a child’s language skills. Conversely, parents can learn about their children’s language development by how well they listen to music.

Music is good for language development

From my years of experience in education, I found that children with poor phonetic ability will have more difficulty in learning music and vocal music, such as pitch, rhythm, range, etc. This is actually related to listening and sound composition skills. Among the different types of sounds, music is the ideal language teaching material, except for the human language. There is a wide variety of music, with different rhythms or themes, from which children can broaden their understanding of sound. In addition to its educational value, some soft music can even help to soothe emotions.

Play the harmonica and experience the sound and breathing changes

The same piece of music can feel very different when played by different instruments. This is also good training for your child’s listening sensitivity. In addition to listening to records or playing music files on the computer, it is fun and meaningful for children to get in touch with real instruments and actually play them so that they are more aware of the relationship between different materials and sounds. Harmonica is a good training tool among many musical instruments. When playing the harmonica, children need to exhale through their mouths, thus having the opportunity to experience the changes between sound and breathing. When children play the harmonica, they use their tongues and lips to create sounds that are coordinated with each other, which is an important foundation for the use of the mouth.

Singing children’s songs to learn to speak

In addition to imitating everyday conversations, singing a cute children’s song can have the desired effect of enhancing memory and deepening impressions by using music to carry language. If children can sing along, even if they can’t produce the right sounds at first, they can develop their speaking skills during the imitation process.

A building is built from the ground up, and training in early childhood is very important for children to have good language skills in the future. Through the use of music and musical instruments, children can build a good language foundation in a fun and relaxing way, so parents may want to try it out more often.