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Colección: La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998

Conclusions and Discussion

In agreement with much of the literature and research findings reported, there are substantial differences in the four-and five-year olds’ knowledge of basic language concepts. As Chipman and Sinclair’s research clearly shows, the child at five years has a high degree of language competence. This same level of language ability has been shown to be consistently lacking in four-year-olds when tested both at mid-year and at the end of the school year. Also, the factor of attending a day care center does not appear to impact on the child’s ability in language since the five-year-olds from both the kindergarten and the day care settings attained scores that were largely similar. Moreover, when comparisons were made for sex differences, none were found and age remained the predominant variable.

The second major hypothesis of the study was the consideration of the relationship between language and performance on tasks of operational knowledge. The randomly selected groups of children with three levels of language ability and the two age groups also confirmed some of the previously cited research findings. It has been observed in numerous studies and suggested by Piaget that the child attains knowledge of operational intelligence about age seven. As noted above, the child has almost adult competence in language ability by age five. This was borne out by the findings in that the correlations between language and Piagetian task performance for five-year-olds resulted in negative correlations. Thus as the child of five advanced in language, there was not a parallel grasp of operational knowledge. However, with the younger child of four, their lower performance on language did parallel their lower performance on the operational tasks and positive and significant correlations were found. The child of four has less knowledge of basic language concepts and is far less capable in the area of operational intelligence.

The lack of successful attainment on operational tasks could have been anticipated for children of four or five. The pre-operational level child is often unable to “stand back” or “decenter,” and relies on one perceptual variable to the exclusion of significant others. For example, the upper level of the water is considered without taking into account the width of the glass. Basic language concepts, on the other hand, were presented as static pictures which may have facilitated the child’s choice of the three given samples. As suggested by Sinclair and Bloom, the child’s familiarity with certain common concepts such as “some” or “many” may have been learned through some type of modeling and have functioned as pseudo-structures that facilitated correct responses. It would appear that while cognition underpins other symbolic functions, certain systems such as language may have been learned through parental modeling and reinforcement experiences. In addition, while the development of the perceptual system appears to provide date, it is used selectively by the child and interferes with the ability to decenter and thus use all the information available to allow for correct responses on the operational tasks.

Undoubtedly, further investigation needs to be done for a more definitive answer to the relationship between the language and cognitive systems. Since this study involved children at the pre-operational level of development, one recommendation for further investigation would be the inclusion of these same variable in a more longitudinal study. This would present a more complete picture of the variations and fluctuations in these interrelationships in the child’s development of language and cognition.