When I finally visited Chiapas and his home village, I was amazed by how knowledgable he, his family and friends actually are. They may not have formal education, but they do pay attention and discuss everything. But then life revolves around cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, and so family closeness and communication are an everyday thing. Even though I had asked many questions, it was not until I went to Chiapas that it all began to make sense to me.
*************************************************************** Permit me a little stab at a big topic.
Maritsa's comment above about family and friends paying attention and discussing everything, seems key to this discussion. Most people as infants and then children, pick up oral language as easily as young ducklings take to the water.
Certain sounds, arrangements of sounds are thought to be universal similiar and some experts, who study this topic in detail, suggest that human beings are 'wired' to use language. Infants start mimicking sounds and learn the meanings of 'sounds'(words) from the people around them, starting with their primary caregivers. Their success or lack thereof, is in daily living, continually reinforced or alternately, 'corrected'. Gradually their speaking skills come under a wider tutelage, other children in the family, other children, teachers, social groups, they join or identify with etc.
Basically then, learning to talk, becoming understood by others, important to one's well-being is a natural process. The richer, the language environment, in this regard, often influences the acquired language skills.
In Mexico, family is everything. From what, I've experienced, everyone talks to the new baby, and young children are doted upon. Within the extended family, which is often very large, even more people are brought into the language equation. Then there's the close friends, and the close friends of friends and the language/communication circle widens.
The comment, about 'cooking, cleaning and looking after the children' or other shared experiences like relationships, is also true. These topics and others, are continually being discussed, compared, commented on.
Men have a whole another range of topics, they discuss continually with people whose opinions they value. Then there's the aspect of 'entertaining' each other, story-telling and pleasuring people with language.
Learning to spell and understand the formal rules of any written language, eg. grammar is another kettle of fish entirely. I believe, if my memory serves correct, deploying other learning areas in the brain. Usually children are not ready to learn to spell and read until after infancy. Although this topic is often debated and endless studies/research papers and academic/professional careers built upon exploring this topic.
Some people take to learning to spell and the many inconsistencies of spelling easily and other people, find it hard and frustrating. People without formal education to the 2 or 3 year (and a great many people in Mexico do not continue school after the 6th year) many be handicapped in learning the ins and outs of written language.
Besides some teachers teaching the subject are not necessarily strong in this department of language, themselves. etc. etc. Or focus on other parts of the educational program.
(This post was edited by wendy devlin on Oct 18, 2009, 11:42 AM)