Learning Language Through Play

Sometimes as parents or caretakers of children, we believe that children play too much and need to focus more seriously and strictly on academics. But what if we told you that children learn best through play? It is essentially their job to play, be tactile, and imaginative. 

From playing with toys and kids their age to playing with food, it is important that they play as much as they can for their development. This is why here at HOLA, we not only believe in teaching language through play, but we apply it in our courses. 

The Value of Play

It was 1973 when researchers first started realizing that learning through play is valuable for child development. Evidence that learning through play is fundamental for child development has come from anthropological studies, correlational studies, and experimental studies. They have used three models to research play and child development: where playing is epiphenomenal, shows equifinality, or is essential for development.

It is necessary to acknowledge and realize that play is the occupation of children; it should not be discouraged or chastised. It essentially contributes to children’s cognitive, social, physical, and emotional well-being because it is how they make sense of the world. There are multiple ways of playing, such as purposeful and self-directed or free and unstructured. 

It is also essential to engage in play with children. It is why we encourage our instructors to do so when teaching. When parents and other influential adults in the child’s life engage in play with children, they reinforce the growth of their skills across many scopes of development.

Reinforcing Speech Through Play

Play allows children to practice their skills in the languages they are learning and, therefore, can build upon their vocabulary. When children are allowed to have playtime, it promotes socialization with their peers and adults. When they don’t have this opportunity it can lead to immature speech development. 

Language is reinforced and increases during role play for children. It gives them the confidence to use language they’ve recently learned or heard peers use. 

Children need to not only have directed play but imaginative play as well. When they use their imagination to play, it supports and enhances speech development. Imaginative play also allows children to recreate experiences they have lived and shared with peers and adults in their life. Playing imaginatively is also a way for children to process difficult experiences.

Enjoy Playtime

There are different types of play we can take part in with children at home and at school to help teach language. Some examples include:

  • Help them identify words found in the area you are playing in. Practice both nouns and verbs. When playing with the child, take on the role of co-play or play leader, and use the vocabulary they are currently learning.
  • Be a co-player to the child and be a sensitive play leader. Withhold from commenting outside of the play frame or shifting to teaching. 
  • Select a play area with the child’s interests or a familiar setting.

Have fun with them and help them learn and grow their development.


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