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Cultural Influences on Language Development

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Gabrielle Smith

on 25 October 2013

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Transcript of Cultural Influences on Language Development

Cultural Influences on Language Development
First of all...
what is LANGUAGE?
Language: a symbolic system in which a series of sounds make up words to represent an idea, object, or a person and eventually becomes a medium through which we speak
INDIVIDUALISTIC VS. COLLECTIVIST cultures:
Individualistic Cultures: a culture in which emphasis is placed on the individual alone and learning at a pace specific to their abilities. Success and failure, especially concerning learning, revolves around the actions of that individual and are not tied to a group.
[America has an Individualistic culture- i.e: "The American Dream"

Collectivist Cultures: these kinds of cultures emphasize family and group goals above individual needs as well as success and failure
[These are cultures such as China and Japan]
Thanks for your attention...
I have a handout for you guys now!
In what ways does CULTURE influence LANGUAGE development?
A few cultural factors that influence our language development are:

1. Growing up in an INDIVIDUALISTIC vs. COLLECTIVIST culture

2. Learning and speaking MULTIPLE languages

3. Family Environmental Factors
How do these cultures effect our language development?
-the ways in which language is learned varies between these cultures
-for example, in certain cultures, "prelinguistic children are spoken about rather than spoken to"
-children, also, may grow up learning only to speak when an adult addresses them directly and never to jump-in on an adult conversation or speak up in a public setting
-for this reason, many children have difficulties in the classroom(specifically American classrooms) when asked to orally give their opinion or demonstrate dialogue with other students
-the eagerness of many students to speak in class and develop verbal language skills is less common among students of different cultures and from different backgrounds
The Sapir-Whorf Theory
This theory by an American linguist and his student stated that the way we think and view the world is determined by our language

-This theory also stated that some languages have specific words for concepts whereas other languages use several words to represent a specific concept
Different methods of development:
-In some cultures, mostly Collectivist cultures,
new skills, even language skills, are taught through non-verbal observation

-In many Individualistic cultures, such as that in America, skills are mainly taught through verbal instruction

These practices, therefore, set the tone for the ways in which language and other fundamental human characteristics develop in children of different cultures
How does learning MULTIPLE LANGUAGES affect Language Development?
First, some vocabulary:

bilingual: speaking 2 languages

multilingual: speaking more than 2 languages

simultaneous bilinguals: learning 2 languages at the same time

successive bilinguals: learning a new language while retaining the native language

mixed speech: the creation of a single linguistic system made up of sounds and words from both languages
Many people believe that as a child, it is much easier to pick up and use new languages. What many people do not know is that though children are often exposed to new languages at their "critical period" of language development (up to 2 years old), children need more than just exposure to a language to it up and be able to reproduce it.

Children need interaction with other speakers as well as the need to communicate in order to develop the new language effectively.

Once children have been continuously exposed to multiple languages simultaneously and can begin to separate the languages for verbal use, children begin to move away from mixed speech and into language differentiation.
Buckley Kilpatrick- age 4
Reading in Basque
little French girl tells a magical story
So...
Though children often acquire new languages more often and younger than adults do, the basic principle of language development is that "it is much easier for someone at any age to learn a language if they are surrounded by native speakers in a natural social context and experience the need to communicate.


Go learn a new language today! :)
Family Context in Language Development
-the importance of family contexts in language acquisition was researched and described by 2 researchers- Hart and Risley
-their results stated that "talkativeness" in families was far more influential in language development than other factors such as socioeconomic status or ethnic identity
-the amount of talking seemed to be the main factor in developing higher levels of language in several areas including vocabulary growth and use
5 factors were also discovered as being influential in parental language interaction with children:
1. Language Diversity
2. Feedback Tone
3. Symbolic Emphasis
4. Guidance Style
5. Responsiveness

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