Piaget believed that development occurs in exclusive and discrete stages that come sequentially in the life course of a person. These stages also occur at a specific time and equip the child with new capacities (Wadsworth). According to this theory, children are not only passive receivers of knowledge, but they continually investigate and experiment during all their stages of growth. This paper will discuss Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, and its all stages, focusing on the learning of language by the child through this process using suitable examples.
The first developmental stage known as the sensorimotor stage starts with childbirth and remains till the procurement of language. During this stage, an infant shows his intelligence through motor activity having no use of symbols (Wadsworth). For example, he may kick his legs. The child starts physical interactions at this stage and through this develops new intellectual aptitudes. At the end of this stage, the child has started thinking symbolically and has started words and pictures to characterize objects. In the next stage known as the pre-operational stage, the child shows his intelligence by using different symbols and his language gets matures. He now understands the notion of conservation as he is now able to use inductive logic. For example, the child starts speaking the amount of liquid in a short form.
Then at the concrete operational stage, a child shows intelligence by the logical use of symbols connected to concrete objects (Wadsworth). He is now a school-going, child. At this stage, he formally learns the language. In the fourth stage, known as the formal operational stage, a child makes logical use of symbols connected through abstract concepts. He has started using deductive logic. For example, a child can now ask his parent to take him hovering in the air as birds do.
Wadsworth, Barry J. Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development: Foundations of constructivism. Longman Publishing, 1996.