Language is vital for learning. Language enables children to learn – with and from others – about the world around them and beyond.

Oral language is key for caregivers and educators of young children to impart:

  • knowledge and information
  • instructions and direction
  • feedback and advice
  • encouragement and support
  • and to build relationships.

Having a language in common facilitates the flow of these communication acts, so the messages are conveyed in full fairly easily. This is the reason why children’s development is enhanced when they continue using their first languages. It promotes their learning.

Where children are commencing or building another language, in addition to their first and main language, their additional language does not convey messages quite so readily. Children need educators to understand that the full content and intent of what they say might not be conveyed.

So that children’s learning is not impeded, educators can learn how to support meaning making – e.g. with images, gestures and first language support. Educators will be mindful to give children ample opportunities to try out the SAE they are picking up, and encourage them when using it.

Given good support, learning an additional language is a plus, as it promotes cognitive development.