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Language Acquisition: nativist, cognitivist, interactionist
Transcript of Language Acquisition: nativist, cognitivist, interactionist
3 Main Theories
This theory proposes that language is developed through "operant conditioning", or the child's environment.
Example of behaviorism is external reinforcement, imitation, and modeling
Baby makes a sound or noise that resembles words
Child imitates word(s) or sentence(s) they hear spoken
Reinforces with physical or verbal affirmation
Child says "Abbul pees"
Hug, Cuddle, High-five
Baby talk: "Who's that talking? Was that you talking? Yes, it was. You were using words."
Child says "ah-baw-baw-baw" and parent repeats "ball" and pointing to a ball
A biological brain 'micro-chip' that has all the set rules for language built-in. These rules encompass and apply to all the world languages. It activates as soon as a child compiles enough vocabulary, and allows them to speak in proper grammar based on the rules prescribed.
Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
the ability to learn language is programmed into our brains from birth
humans must be predisposed for language development, 3because the rules of language, such as grammar structure, cannot be discovered or taught because of their complexity.
language learning is a social experience
It interlinks the Nativist and Behaviourist theories in that it observes how a child's innate ability and their outer environment interact with their drive to connect to others and their surroundings.
Parent combines modeling word for imitation with reinforcement
Child gestures at apple
Parent says "say 'Apple please'"
Parent gives child the apple
The child learns the new word by continuously using the word to receive what the child wants. Repetition is key.
Behaviorism does not fully explain the development of language, since children are fully capable of coming up with words and sentences on their own without hearing or being reinforced by others, thus reinforcement, imitation, and modeling are more supplementary to the acquisition of language, than the general rule.
Helps children learn words by centering their concentration on pertinent information and word breakdowns within continuous speech (sentences).
Child or Infant Directed Speech (CDS/IDS): A distinct way of interacting between adults to children
Use of slower talking speeds, with distinct pauses between words
Spoken at a higher pitch
Exaggerated facial expressions, ie. widening eyes
Clear pronunciation of words
Simplification of words for easy pronunciation and memorization by children, ie. "bye-bye", "night-night", "Yummy in your tummy!"
Repeat back what was said, sometimes modeling correct grammar or pronunciation
Children prefer CDS to Adult Directed Speech (ADS), and will seek it out.
Evidence & Research that support this theory
From birth, infants prefer human voice over other sounds
There are general milestones regarding language development that apply to children from all over the world
Only humans are capable of complex sentence structure
Primates can only acquire basic vocabulary, and limited articulated hand gesture languages, such as American Sign Language
For most people, the left side (hemisphere) of the the cerebral cortex (outer layer of the brain) is dedicated to language
Within the left hemisphere are two specific areas
Specialized Areas of the Human Brain Dedicated to Language
Language acquired later on in life does not compare to language development within the early sensitive period
In the early years of a child's life the brain is still maturing and lateralizing, during this period the brain is more receptive to language development
The brain becomes more specialized as the child picks up language, it is not fully 'lateralized' from birth
Sensitive Time Window to Develop Language
Not all language development occurs in the early years of life. More complex forms of grammar are learned as children get older and attend school, like compound sentences.
A contradiction to the LAD theory is that rules of grammar, no matter how minute or complex, differ from country to country, language to language, thus there cannot be one set rule that governs all of the languages spoken in the world.
in an environment that is only adults, who predominately speak to each other and only occasionally to the child using "adult language", the child's language construct would be different from one who's surrounded by other children their age and adults who alter their speech to be age appropriate.
Begins around 4 months old
Repetitive strings of consonant-vowel, ie. amamamama, bababababa, mum-mum-mum
All infants are capable of early babbling
More advance speech-sounding babbling will typically begin around 7 months old, but will be greatly delayed in infants with hearing impairments, and never develop in deaf infants
As the infant gets older, certain babble strings may be only used in specific situations, like when looking at a book versus a plastic toy, or near food
A theory is that, before infants begin to express themselves using language, they test and explore different sound arrangements to make meaning and understand how language works.
Predecessors to Language
Begins around 2 months old
vowel-like sounds, ie. "oooo", "ah", "eh-eh"
Between 8-12 months old
Infant will show what they want by pointing at or holding up objects
Through adult labeling, realization of the use of words, the link between word and object, and the meaning of words begins to develop in infants
Vocabulary acquisition accelerates between 18-24 months old from 1-3 words/month to generally 10-20 words/week as they mature in their capacity to sort their experiences into groups and recall from memory vocabulary
By 20-26 months old toddlers begin to combining two words from their expanded vocabulary together, ie. "Mommy go", "more candy", "no nap!"
They focus on getting their main point across and leave out lesser important parts of the sentence
Children comprehend more than they produce in speech, because comprehension only necessitates the child be able to identify words, whereas production involves them retrieving words from memory and the meaning of the words.
Around 4-6 months old, adults start to interact with infants using turn-taking or give-and-take games, ie. peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake
At the beginning the adult initiates and does most of the action, while the infant is more an observer
Around 12 months old, these games become more interactive as infants become active participants in these games, sometimes being the initiators
Teaches the infant how to take turns in verbal exchanges
By 12 months toddlers begin to say their first definite words (this means the words can be recognized by other outside of the immediate family)
The first words tend to be words that represent people that are important to the child (ie. "Mama", "Dada"), movable or animate objects (ie. "dog", "ball", "car"), frequent actions (ie. "up", "more", "bye-bye", "eat", "hi"), and results of those actions (ie. "hot", "wet", "sticky")
B. F. Skinner
Chomsky and Pinker