HOW WE LEARN TO TALK
MARK A. ITTLEMAN, M.S., CCC/SLP
As a practitioner of speech language pathology and a father of four wonderful children, I’ve had the opportunity to experience first hand what happens when children or adults learn or relearn the act of talking.
This article may dispel some myths about learning to talk, and some of the methods that are currently being used in the United States today to deal with people who are not talking or those who have lost that ability.
Many of us have experienced first hand how to speak. We grew up in a home where the language was spoken, and we learned quickly how to get what we wanted. We either said words nicely, or screamed our lungs out, or gestured to get the desired object of our desire.
I remember going to kindergarten and my mother walking with us to school for the first few days. She repeated over and over again, “look to the right, look to the left, look up, down and behind, then look again, and when it is clear to cross the street.” Why was it that those words were heard in my mind each time I approached the corner of Darrow Avenue and West 8th Street?
I learned to cuss from my friend Bruce, who lived close by, and learned to smoke from my other best friend Bill Reich. I learned to speak with clarity at Pennington Prep from Mrs. Wolfe, who helped me win trophy after trophy in Declamation and Ronan contests. I learned to get major roles in plays by being under the direction of Mr. Sapir at Plainfield High School.
So what’s the point? How do we learn to speak? Do we learn from notebooks, computer programs, hand-out sheets, or fill in the blank busy-work? No. Do we learn to talk by writing or spelling words? No. Do we learn to talk by problem solving sheets, or matching words to pictures? No.
We learn by finding a model, hanging out with them, and learning how they do what they do.
I’d like to thank my recently deceased mother, Josephine, for allowing me to spend time with her so that she could instill an understanding of speaking, proper grammar, and language. She was home with us during the first 5 years of our lives, constantly interacting and speaking with us.
I think those are some of the ways we learn to speak.
Mark A. Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP is a speech language pathologist who consults with patients at Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital, Humble, Texas. He has practiced speech language pathology with children and adults for over 40 years and had served in schools, private practice, and rehabilitation hospitals. He is an author of The Teaching of Talking, Learn to Do Expert Speech and Language Stimulation with Children and Adults (2013) Morgan James Publishing, New York City, New York. It is written for therapists, parents, family members, loved ones, spouses and caregivers. The author believes that family members, loved ones, and care givers can help a child or adult learn to talk or speak again with specialized knowledge.
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