Chapter 8: Language Acquisition

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CHAPTER 8:
LANGUAGE
ACQUISITION
Lil Adams
Michelle Ro
THEORIES ABOUT HOW CHILDREN AQUIRE
LANGUAGE:
• Imitation
• Correction & Reinforcement
(behaviorist)
• Analogy
• Connectionism (behavior,
analogy, & reinforcement)
• Structured Input
• Innateness Hypothesis
FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION STAGES
Stage
Typical Age
Description
Babbling
6-8 months
Repetitive CV patterns
One-word stage
or holophrastic
stage
9-18 months Single open-class words or word
stems
Two-word stage
18-24
months
"mini-sentences" with simple
semantic relations
Telegraphic
stage or early
multiword stage
24-30
months
"Telegraphic" sentence structures
of lexical rather than functional or
grammatical morphemes
Later multiword
stage
30+ months
Grammatical or functional
structures emerge
SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION STAGES
Stage
Approx.
Time Frame
Description
Preproduction 0-6 months
"Silent Period," Listening, beginning
to understand, points, total physical
response
Early
Production
6 months 1 year
1 or 2 word responses, participates
using key words/familar phrases,
uses present-verb tense
Speech
Emergence
1 - 3 years
good comprehension, produces
simple sentences, makes grammar
and pronunciation errors
Immediate
Fluency
3 - 5 years
excellent comprehension, makes few
grammatical errors
Advanced
Fluency
5 - 7 yearas
near-native level of speech
THE DEVELOPMENT OF GRAMMAR
Phonology: The sound system of a language; the component of a grammar that indicates the
inventory of sounds (phonetic and phonemic units) and rules for their combination and
pronunciation; the study of the sound systems of all languages.
• First words are generally monosyllabic with CV (consonant-vowel) form.
• Children acquire the small set of sounds that are common to all languages
before the sounds that are specific to child’s language.
• Acquisition begins with vowel sounds
• Manner of articulation: Nasals (m, n), glides (j, w), stops (p,t,k), liquids (l,r),
fricatives (f), and affricates (t,d).
• Place of articulation: labials (lips), velars (back part of the tongue against
the soft palate), alveolars (tongue against or close to the superior alveolar
ridge), and palatals (tongue raised against the hard palate).
• Can comprehend more phonological contrasts than they can produce.
(wabbit – ring, wing)
THE ACQUISITION OF WORD MEANING
•
Intuitively we know children learn words when we label objects.
•
•
Children overextend words by calling all men daddy.
•
Underextension – when children apply a word like “bird” only to
family pet but not to animals in trees outside.
•
Children learn about fourteen words a day for the first six years of
life!
•
Syntactic bootstrapping is when children use syntax and context
clues to determine word meaning.
After child acquired about 75-100 words, begin to narrow the
meanings.
THE ACQUISITION OF MORPHOLOGY
Morphology: The study of the structure of words; the component of
the grammar that includes the rules of word formation.
•
Overgeneralization is evidence of “rule learning”, when children
use terms like bringed, goed…we know they are not using imitation
to acquire language.
Children usually go through 3 phases of acquisition of irregular
forms of verbs
o
Phase 1 – child uses correct form (brought)
o
Phase 2 – when child forms rules for past tense and applies
the rule to all verbs (bringed)
o
Phase 3 – child understands past tense and knows there
are exceptions to the rule. They use (brought) again but now
understand the root of the word is bring.
•
Children acquiring other language may also have to learn number
and gender rules.
THE ACQUISITION OF SYNTAX
•
In a study done on children, infants tend to look longer at videos of
the sentences they hear. Results show that children as young as
17 months can understand the differences between sentences
o i.e. "The dog is chasing the cat." vs."The cat is in the tree."
•
Around the age of 2, children start to put words together.
o These 2 word sentences have clear syntactic and semantic
relations.

i.e. "mommy sock" (noun noun) expresses a subject +
object relation [Mommy has my sock]
•
Telegraphic speech occurs as children create multiword
utterances. During this stage, they tend to leave out auxiliaries,
function words, and determiners. But the sentences contain the
required words for basic understanding.
o i.e. "Daddy build house."
•
Between ages 2 years 6 months and 3 years 6 months, a
"language explosion" occurs.
THE ACQUISITION OF PRAGMATICS
•
•
•
•
Birth to 9 months
o looking/listening to speaker (eye contact)
o smiles/coos/vocalizes in response to a voice
o enjoys being played with
o Recognizes familiar people
9-1 year 1/2 months
o Shakes head no, Waves
o reaches to request objects
o comments by pointing
o teases, scolds, warns using gestures
1.5 years - 3 years
o Verbal turn-taking
o Expresses emotion
o 2 word phrases
3 years - 5 years
o Pretend play
o longer dialogue
CHAPTER 8: QUESTION 3FIND A CHILD BETWEEN TWO AND
FOUR YEARS OLD AND PLAY WITH THE CHILD FOR ABOUT THIRTY MINUTES. KEEP
A LIST OF ALL WORDS AND/OR “SENTENCES” THAT ARE USED INAPPROPRIATELY.
DESCRIBE WHAT THE CHILD’S MEANINGS FOR THESE WORDS PROBABLY ARE.
DESCRIBE THE SYNTACTIC OR MORPHOLOGICAL ERRS (INCLUDING OMISSIONS). IF
THE CHILD IS PRODUCING MULTIWORD SENTENCES, WRITE A GRAMMAR THAT
COULD ACCOUNT FOR THE DATA YOU HAVE COLLECTED.
Faith
Faith
Jason
Raul
Faith
FAITH'S GRAMMAR
Mel: asked Faith to repeat "can you say Mel-Mel? Auntie? Elmo?
F: repeats "Elmo"
(using imitation to increase word knowledge, Mel using mohterease to ask for only one
word sentences)
Faith is wining, Mel says "what do you want?
F: Looks at cousin playing with her toy and says: "Sa Sa mine"
(missing verb)
Amber is asking Faith about dinosuar that scared her at birthday party:
F: Repeats "bye bye" until mother cues her by saying "dinosaur went bye bye" Faith
repeats "dinosaur bye bye"
(missing verb, mother uses correction)
Faith's Mommy: Tell me about the birds.
F: Points and uses gestures instead of words..
Faith uses two word utterances such as " Tika out?, blue table, fire hot and pool bad"
(uses gestures and two word utterances - telegraphic speech)
JASON
JASON'S GRAMMAR
M: Can you tell me about the picture that you made?
J: he.. He Spiderman, him
(Missing verb, unnecessary use of an extra pronoun)
M: Alright, well tell me about the Avengers.
J: this guy the bad guy. here comes the one with the hammer. this
Hulk. this Iron Man. he flying away. and this is Captain America.
(missing verb in all sentences, except last one)
M: Captain America. Ok , so why are they fighting?
J: because they don't like to be friends
(semantics [like] error)
M: So what happens in the end?
J: Um, he go friends... he got friends again.
(verb error)
Raul
RAUL'S GRAMMAR
M: Can you tell me what happened?
R: The baby is stuck in the tree. (number error)
M: and then?
R: and the mamma come (number error, verb tense error)
M: well, why were they stuck in the tree? What happened?
R: they climbing (missing verb)
M: what happened on this page?
R: mom come back. two momma back. the g, the r, the j
(number errors)
M: So what happened at the end?
R: it get out and the momma come. the end
(pronoun error, verb tense error)
ANY QUESTIONS?
RESOURCES
Crain, S. & Pietroski, P. (2001). Nature, Nurture and Universal
Grammar. Linguistics And Philosophy, 24(2), 139-186.
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An Introduction to
Language. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Hill, J. D. & Flynn, K. M. (2006). Classroom Instruction That Works
with English Language Learners. [Retrieved] 5/28/2012, [from]
http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/106009/chapters/The-Stag
es-of-Second-Language-Acquisition.aspx.
Stages of Language Acquisition in Children. (n.d).
[Retrieved]5/28/2012 [from] http://www.ling.upenn/edu/courses/
Fall_2003/ling001/acquisition.html

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