Here is an interesting article I read today: Dutch researcher Lotte Henrichs followed the linguistic development of 150 children between the ages of 3-6 for three years, and found that those whose parents addressed them as equal conversational partners were much faster to develop a foundation for ‘academic language’.
From the article:
Academic language is not an independent, new language, but is the language that teachers use and expect from the pupils. It enables children to understand instructions and to demonstrate their knowledge in an efficient manner. Academic language is characterised by difficult, abstract words and complex sentence structures. The language often contains a lot of clauses and conjunctions and due to the methods of argument and analysis it has a scientific appearance.
The research showed that the more children were encouraged to make an active contribution to a conversation, the more they leaned towards naturally using the characteristics of academic language that they had already picked up from school and other places.
So, don’t talk down to your young children – try to engage them in interesting, stimulating conversations and they will reap the benefits. Science has spoken!