Childrens Private Speech

Walk into any classroom or playground full of young children aged from four years old through to six or seven, and you will be overwhelmed by the constant noise.Now think back to your own childhood, and try to recall if it was that noisy when you were that age.If you can’t , you are probably like the majority of people.But you will definitely remember the adults in your life telling you to “shut up”, “be quiet” and “sshhh”.Many Psychologists have noted what is actually being said in all this noise, and attempted to establish what level of communication is actually taking place, and the purpose of this communication.
A large proportion of this talking has been labeled “private speech”.Private speech could be defined as the “speech uttered aloud by children which appears to be addressed to either themselves or to no one in particular” (Allyn & Bacon, date unknown).Many people have attempted to explain why children use private speech so prominently, and to explain the role that it plays in a child’s development, if any at all.
Piaget (1926) looked at the private speech phenomenon and referred to it as “egocentric speech”, as he believed it was the result of children being cognitively immature.He observed many children between the ages of four and six, and concluded that their private speech was egocentric as they were unable to communicate the views of others.Piaget also concluded that their speech was solely for themselves, and served “no developmental or social purpose” (Allyn & Bacon).It was also suggested that as children grow older and their social skills develop, and they are able to adopt the perspectives of people, the amount of private speech they use decreases.This can easily be illustrated in Figure 1.
The relationship between a child’s age and the amount of private speech used.
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