Language Development Lessons

Studying the meanings, functions, and grammatical significance of words are vital to the development of language skills.

There are numerous programs designed to help children, youths, and adults develop their skills with languages–be they first languages or subsequent. While the particular methods of these programs can vary widely–from learning to read through phonics to diagrammatic deconstruction–almost all programs will fall into one or more of three basic categories. These categories (semantics, syntax and aural) comprise the main areas of language, and must be taught in conjunction to fully develop the understanding of the student.


Broadly speaking, semantics is the study of meaning in language. As such, its principal subject matter is that of vocabulary; but it also deals with idioms and rhetorical devices. Semantic programs will focus heavily on word etymologies, pluralities of definition, significance of word choice, and the rhetorical power a word has on its audience. An example of the method of semantic language development would be assigning a student a weekly list of words to memorize the definitions and applications. Solid education in semantics provides the student with the ability not only to use words fittingly, but to engage in discussions with people of various levels of education.


Syntactic language development focuses upon the correct placement and relationship of words to one another. This entails studying the functions of the parts of speech as well as grammar–tenses, number, subjects, predicates and so forth. One popular method to teach syntax is diagramming sentences, in which a student is given a sentence and must correctly break apart the various parts in such a way that simultaneously explains their functions. This enables the student to comprehend the meanings of complicated sentence structures and to adequately present their own more complicated thoughts through language.

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Aural teaching of a language is that which deals explicitly with pronunciation. In Western languages, this is often less important than in Eastern, which typically emphasize nuances in pronunciation–leading to great misunderstandings with bad pronunciation. Learning to properly discern particular sounds, and to produce them, is typically taught in early childhood, as the human tongue can only learn new movements during a brief span of the human life. In Western culture, this is often taught through what is called “phonics,” or the study of phones, the smallest units of sound in language.