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The Power of Simplicity

Children are able to use a bare minimum of words to communicate. And most importantly, they intuitively know that they will only learn to speak by speaking. At first, they speak in simple and short sentences, sometimes just in phrases, and yet we understand them. Since they repeat a relatively small number of words, they can use these words and phrases in many situations naturally.


 

How young children develop their vocabulary

  • A six-month-old baby only makes sounds that don't have much to do with words yet. It understands basic activities, it can express agreement and disagreement however until it is one year old, it doesn’t speak and simply observes the world around it.

  • When the baby is a year old, it can say the first few words, but for strangers, it’s quite difficult to determine what they mean. Its parents however understand these words without any problems. Words like daddy, eat, mummy. Sometimes the baby says words that it has made up and its parents have to learn to understand what they mean.

  • When the child is 18 months old, it can actively say 5 to 40 words. What’s interesting is that it can communicate with its parents and make itself understood when it comes to all the essential needs that it has at this age.

  • By the time it is two years old, a child knows 150 to 300 words and begins to use sentences of two to three words. At this age, it can assert its will in many areas.

  • At the age of three, a child knows 900 to 1,000 words and asks short questions. It can ask about the world around it and find out details about it.

  • Once the child is four years old, it knows about 2,000 words and forms sentences of five or more words. By this time, it could be said that a child can communicate about almost anything without problems. It can understand relatively complex fairytales and stories. Its communication skills are almost complete in terms of grammar structures.


Why is it that when we were children, were we able to communicate proficiently with so little?

Listening made us realize which words were strategically important to us, and we learned those first. We learned handy phrases (language patterns) that could be used in many different situations. Thanks to them, we gradually understood the grammar of the language and learned to use it creatively.

We used the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule) naturally. This principle states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, knowing just 20% of the right words will enable 80% of all communication. Although each language has over 100,000 words, we only need about 1,000 to 2,000 words to cover 80% of the language (different languages differ from each other in this regard).

The advantage of this approach where we use a small number of words over and over again in the beginning, is a better ability to become familiar with and learn to use the new words automatically. This then increases self-confidence. Conversely, too many words that haven’t been automated lead to stumbling in the language and slower word recall.

Children speak in simple, short sentences. This is a big advantage since this simple way of speaking makes it possible to express yourself very clearly and does not require complex linking of individual words with advanced grammar.

Children don’t worry too much about making mistakes at first. They know that if they try hard

enough, they will gradually correct their mistakes, just as they did when they were learning to walk.

It’s not important to use complex sentences and know thousands of words from the very beginning. At that stage, you only need to use a few hundred words to communicate well! That's why at Mooveez we create all situations and stories in a way that means they are useful from the get and you can use them immediately. We compose stories from the most useful (and used) words. When creating our stories and situations, we continually work with the frequency dictionaries of that language and first, use the words that are most often found in the language. Everything is taught using simple and short sentences which are called language patterns.

If you learn, for example, “I want coffee with milk”, you can substitute anything else for coffee with milk and the formula you learn in this way will serve you well in a hundred different variations, just as it serves children.

We are all capable of learning to speak any language. We have proven this by learning our

native language. And we can awaken this ability in ourselves again.

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