Child Language Acquisition study
Terms in this set (37)
the smallest unit of sound which conveys a meaning; for example, in fell and well the f and v are phonemes
in language acquisition, a single word that expresses a whole idea. For example, when a child says 'ball' it can mean the object, it wants it, or it likes it. Caregivers need contextual clues to interpret holophrases.
when children make a mistake by overgeneralizing or overapplying a grammatical rule to an unknown word: he runned, she swimmed
is a process used by young children to extend the meaning of the word (using dada for all men). It is also called over-generalization underextension, which is the use of a word in a limited way which does not recognize its full meaning.
the dialect of a particular group, especially one with low status in relation to the standard language
the study of language as it is used in a social context.
in this context, the inherited genetic and physical make up of a person, for example gender and ethnicity are inherited and almost always fixed
the sum total of all environmental influences a person experiences - things lie schooling and the family environment are important features in nurture
a process whereby behavior is changed or modified due to the repeated presence of a stimulus; repetition of the stimulus over time triggers a specific form of behavior (words of praise are a stimulus to learning a language)
language acquisition device
an innate system in the brain which allows the spontaneous development of language in a child from birth, Chomsky (1965). It is not the same for the learning of a second or any other language.
language acquisition support system (LASS)
a system of support from caregivers to children that helps them to acquire language and become sociable, Bruner (1983)
the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and abilities through thought, experience, and the senses
the extent to which an experiment gives the same results on repeated trials
the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the principle that is being measured
Research in France (Mehler, 1988) found that babies as young as four days old were able to distinguish French from other languages. When they heard French they sucked more intensively suggesting more interest than when they heard another language. This leads to the speculation that even before birth babies become attuned to the rhythm, intonation, and sounds of a language.What do you think about this?
The First Year
The similar pattern of language development suggest a universal sequence of events in the process of language acquisition. Babies make different sounds and cries for different reasons. These differences are the same across languages and cultures. At six weeks, the baby smiles and coos in a repetitive way. The baby starts making repetitive sounds, which is called reduplication, and is essential for the development of vocal cords later needed for speech. After six months the baby starts babbling by using sounds which are closer to the language it will speak.
At every stage, the parents will help with the child's language development. The caretaker language of the parent initiates and teaches turn-taking. The style of the caretaker is very distinctive. It is the language used by family and friends who speak to the baby in higher and lighter tones with a lot of repetition. In reply, the baby will blow bubbles and 'raspberries.' This practice teaches the infant syntax, vocabulary, and repetition of key words. Even babies between 0-3 months can differentiate voices and will turn to the familiar one.
From One To Two Years - The Holophrastic Stage
This is the stage of rapid vocabulary acquisition and basic syntax. A child's first words are usually spoken at about twelve months and will gain a vocabulary of about 200 words before the second birthday. The term holophrastic refers to grammar and means that the word can have more than one meaning. The understanding of the child and its gestures tells the caretaker what the child is saying/suggesting.
The following key features of language acquisition at this age:
- Many of the lexical terms are nouns referring to people and the infant's environment
- Vocabulary items for personal interaction (bye bye, thank you, yes, no)
- The speech is linked to the infant's wants and needs as well as expressing emotions
- The quality of their language depends on how much they have been spoken to by their family members
The child's rate of learning at this stage is phenomenal. Half-way through the period the child starts using two-word phrases and the range of expressions becomes more complex. These phrases are usually not inflected - there is no use of tense or person.
The earliest consonant sounds produced in English m, n, h, p, b.
Ages 2 to 3 - Including the Telegraphic Stage
During this stage, children learn a lot of words. Usually they learn up to 10 words a week. By the age of 5, they should know around 2000 words. Most of these words are acquired between the ages of 2 and 3. This is the phase in which children have to express everything that they feel and think with a limited vocabulary. This often causes overextension, when a word is used more broadly than it should be (daddy can mean all men). Overextension sometimes gives way to underextension, where a word is used in a narrow context (shoes can mean only the child's shoes and no one else's).
In this stage, the phrases are more complex and the child goes beyond just recognizing people and objects. The words have a greater purpose but they are condensed. The word order is straightforward, but words such as prepositions, suffixes, and determiners are omitted in this stage. They may be used from time to time.
Pronunciation difficulties still exist at this stage. Sounds such as sh, ch, j, th are harder to pronounce. Where children cannot pronounce polysyllabic words they abbreviate them: banana become nana. This is why it is important for adults to speak to the children properly, so that the children can learn how to pronounce words correctly.
Berko and Brown (1960)
They did an experiment in which the child said fis for fish. The adult then asked, 'Is this your fis?' The child answered, 'No, my fis.' Then when the adult asked, 'Is this your fish?' The child answered, 'Yes, my fis.'
So, children recognize the correct form of the word at this stage; however, they may not be able to produce it.
From the age of two, children will usually provide a commentary on what they are doing. This may extend into imaginary play. As the child becomes older, the short monologues become narratives.
From the earliest age the child communicates with the caregiver in some way. Although, they easily participate in a dialogue, they cannot continue on their own without the help of the adult. The majority of children, even when they begin school, talk mostly about their immediate environment and activities.
3-5 Years - Continuing Development
Language development continues rapidly during this stage with cognitive and social development. The following features develop at great speed:
Connecting words (because, if)
Words connected with emotions
Contrasting concepts (sharper, smarter)
At this stage vocabulary includes distinguishing hypernyms (words for categories such as animals, plants...) and hyponyms (words within those categories).
At this stage, children learn longer words (with more syllables)
Grammar become better at this stage; however, they still make virtuous errors.
At this stage they become more fluent and they use question forms.
They begin to understand idioms - expressions with no literal meaning
They still mix up homophones (won/one)
They take part in conversations
They understand abstract ideas
They use conditional sentences
The Berko Wug Test
Jean Berko (1958) carried out an experiment to show the application of grammatical rules by children. Young children were shown a picture of an imaginary creature which Burko called a wug. When shown pictures of more than one they said it's a picture of wugs. So they applied grammatical rules to words only by recognizing what grammatical class they belong to (nouns, verbs....)
A speech style often used by adults and older children when talking to infants or young children, characterized by shortened sentences, simplified grammar, restricted vocabulary, slow speech with many repetitions, diminutive and reduplicative words, such as doggy and choo-choo, raised pitch and exaggerated pitch variation, and many utterances ending in questions with a rising tone (some more?, go walkies?). Also called child-directed speech, motherese (misleadingly, because it is not restricted to mothers) and baby talk (ambiguously, because it is used by adults).
what are Halliday's seven functions of a child's language?
Halliday (1978) proposed that there are 7 stages or functions of a child's speech.
language that is used to fulfil a need, such as to obtain food, drink or comfort. This typically includes concrete nouns.
language that is used to influence the behaviour of others including persuading, commanding or requesting
language that is used to develop relationships and ease interaction. This could include phrases like "I love you mummy" or "Thank you"
language that expresses personal opinions, attitudes and feelings including a speaker's identity
language that is used to relay or request information
language that is used to explore, learn and discover. This could include questions or a running commentary of a child's actions
the use of language to tell stories and create imaginary constructs. This typically accompanies play or leisure activities.
According to B.F.Skinner, language is acquired by conditioning. The child imitates the sounds around them, receives praise or approval which encourages them to repeat and develop language. This is called a behaviorist theory and it is evident in that we grow up by adapting the language and accent around us. Other theories developed based on Skinner's work.
Noam Chomsky (1965)
He put forward an opposing theory. He says that the human brain has an innate ability to acquire language (LAD).This device enables children to be receptive to language development. All children are born with a universal grammar and this is why they are able to easily pick up a language.
Eric Lenneberg (1967)
He said that this device should be activated at a critical period in order for children to acquire a language successfully. The suggested period is broad but it is considered that it is from birth to puberty, which is a sensitive period for language acquisition. Evidence for this comes from the following:
The stages of language development happen at almost the same time for all children
Children's language development follows a similar pattern regardless of the language
Children acquire a language skilfully and effortlessly
Deaf children make up their own language,which resembles existing languages
Piaget's stages of cognitive development
sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, formal operational
Social Development Theory (Vygotsky)
Argues that social interaction precedes development; consciousness and cognition are the end product of socialization and social behavior.
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