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decorative star graphic  The School Years:
Cognitive Development
- Language -

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Ψ  Some sort of schooling is available during middle childhood in every nation; but, there is a great deal of variety in each country.

•  Strict lecture method: students are forbidden to talk, whisper, or even move during class.
•  Open education: students are encouraged to interact and make use of all classroom resources–with the teacher serving more as an adviser, guide and friend.
•  In most developing countries, boys & wealthier children are more likely to receive formal education.

Communication skills:              New Codes

  • Code-switching: a pragmatic communication skill that involves a person’s switching from one form of language, such as dialect or slag, to another. For example, children in middle-childhood censor profanity when they talk to adults, use picturesque slang & drama on the playground, & even switch back & forth from one language to another. All these are changes in code. All children code-switch!
  • Formal code: a form of speech used by children in school & in other formal situations. Example: Extensive vocabulary, complex syntax, & lengthy sentences.
  • Informal code: a form of speech characterized by limited use of vocabulary & syntax; meaning is communicated by Example: gestures, intonation & shared understanding.

Second language Learners

Most of the world’s children are educated in a language other than their mother tongue. Even for those whose home language is also their school language, a second language is useful, even required. Learning another language enhances children’s overall linguistic and cognitive development, especially if it occurs before puberty.


  • From: Total immersion: An approach to learning a second language in which the learner is placed in an environment where only the second language is spoken.
  • To: Reverse total immersion: Child is taught in native language for several years, than the second language is taught as a "foreign" language.


  • English as a Second Language ESL: An approach to teaching English in which English is the only language of instruction for students who speak many other native language.
  • Bilingual education: an approach to teaching a second language that also advances knowledge in the first language. Instruction occurs, side by side, in two languages.
  • Bilingual-bicultural education: an approach to teaching a second language that adds preservation of nonnative cultural symbols & strategies (such as in the way teaching occurs) to a bilingual program.
  • The crucial difference between success and failure in second-language learning seems to rest with the attitudes of the parents, teachers & the larger community in how they indicate to the child that mastering a new language is really valued.

Findings of Developmental Research

  • Children learn a first & second spoken language best early in life, ideally under age 5, otherwise under age 11.
  • Peers are the best teachers, with the encouragement and guidance of adults who understand the school-age child’s eagerness to learn new structures, strategies, and vocabulary.
  • Each combination of child, family, & culture is unique, & goals & attitudes vary tremendously. No single language-teaching approach is best for everyone, everywhere, but attitudes are an important gateway or barrier for language learning.
  • Immigrant children are great learners–if given the opportunity.

Lifespan Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates
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