Published: Jul 12 2021

Language learning is a universal human function. People around the world, in different environments and with different abilities seem to acquire their primary language in essentially the same sequence and the same way. This tells us that humans are hard-wired to learn language in some form (Chomsky, 1968)

Four elements

There are four elements connected with language learning (Ormrod, Anderman, & Anderman, 2020):

• Semantics refers to the meaning. Children learn that certain sounds, symbols, or movements of a hand and facial gestures means something.

• Syntax refers to the rules for how the words, symbols, and movements are put together. For example, in human communication there is usually a thing word (noun) coupled with an action word (verb). Children learn that the types of words, the form of the word, and the order that they are used make a difference.

• Medium refers to the form the language takes. Children learn to produce certain sounds, symbols, or movements to communicate.

• Pragmatics is the context in which the communication takes place and the social rules around that communication. Children learn to communicate in different ways, in different contexts, with different people, and for different purposes.