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* The definition of language varies depending on context. Would the definition for language be different in the context of dialect versus the context of formal properties of language?
* We make many demands of language. M.A.K. Halliday examines the demands of language from the point of view of a child through seven different models. The instrumental model is one of the first functions of language a child learns to use. This model is used to get things done, to meet immediate needs. The personal model uses language to express a child's own individuality. In this model, language serves as a function to develop a child's personality. It's used to make public the things that make one unique. The interactional model is the use of language in the interaction between the self and others, it deals with relationships and groups.
In this function, language can be used to define a group, to include and exclude. This video clip provides examples of ways each of these functions of language may present themselves in the classroom. Children use the regulatory model to control others. The child usually starts using this function of language in simple unstructured demands and eventually progresses to ordered sequences of instructions to rules (ex. explaining the rules of a game). The heuristic model uses language as a function to investigate the environment in order to learn. Language in this model makes it possible to explore, it deals with questioning and learning. The imaginative model uses language to create a world from imagination. Children telling made up stories and playing pretend are utilizing the imaginative model of language. The representational model of language utilizes language for the function of communicating ideas about something or expressing suggestions. The child uses language language to convey messages about aspects of the real world. By: Virginia Erbele *These children are using this function to acquire candy. This little boy uses the regulatory model to control his mother's actions. This clip shows four children using language for an interactional function. In this clip, several children talk about what special thing they can do by themselves. The little boy in this commercial utilizes the heuristic function of language to find out information about his environment. "What's this?" This little girl uses language as an imaginative function to "make banana bread". This little girls uses the representational model to express ideas about her experience of the Star Wars movie. Relating Halliday's Models of Language to Other Course Readings These functions of language go hand-in-hand with interactionist/developmental perspectives mentioned in our Lightbown and Spada text. According to Lightbown and Spada (2006), cognitive and developmental psychologists “hypothesize that what children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to as they hear it used in thousands of hour of interactions with people and objects around them” (p.19). In Halliday’s functions of language, children learn the different functions of language through interactions with the people around them. *These functions of language go hand-in-hand with interactionist/developmental perspectives mentioned in our Lightbown and Spada text. According to Lightbown and Spada (2006), cognitive and developmental psychologists “hypothesize that what children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to as they hear it used in thousands of hour of interactions with people and objects around them” (p.19). In Halliday’s functions of language, children learn the different functions of language through interactions with the people around them.*Our Freeman and Freeman text also discusses the learning of language and how it functions in social contexts. They support that, “language always occurs in a social context, and the meaning of many utterances depends on the context” (2004, p.8). They go on to say that “children try out different ways of expressing their ideas” and that “as they use language in different contexts, they modify their inventions in light of the responses they receive from the community” (p.10) In Halliday’s instrumental model of language, a child learns through a series of experiences in their social context and “becomes aware that language is used as a means of getting things done” (1969 p.50). Sources Freeman, D. & Freeman, Y. (2004). Essential linguistics: What you need to know to teach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinmann.
Lightbown, P.M. & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
Power, B.M. & Hubbard, R.S. (2002). Language development: A reader for teachers. Columbus, OH: Merrill.