Language Acquisition

Mind Map by hsmailes, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by hsmailes about 5 years ago


Mind Map on Language Acquisition, created by hsmailes on 04/24/2015.

Resource summary

Language Acquisition
1 What is Language?
1.1 Arbitrary system of symbols to transmit and understand an infinite variety of messages (Brown, 1965)
1.2 For shared, intended communication (Bancroft, 1995)
1.3 Spoken sounds are used to encode meaning (Barrett, 1999)
1.4 People must be conventional (use language the way everyone uses it) and creative (tailor to circumstances) (Tomasello, 2000)
2 Pre-Linguistic Development
2.1 Infants are well prepared to acquire language
2.1.1 Have pre-wired abilities (e.g. attending to people over objects)
2.1.2 Are born with a sensitivity to language
2.2 Attend to speech in preference to other sounds
2.3 Can discriminate phonemes in all languages
2.4 Can recognise mother's voice and language at birth
2.5 Can recognise familiar from unfamiliar utterances
3 Key Components of Language Development
3.1 1) Phonological Development
3.1.1 Phonology: rules governing speech sounds
3.1.2 Cooing (2 months) - consonants are added and babbling begins (6 months) - first words (12 months)
3.1.3 Limitations of the vocal apparatus not being fully developed Not necessarily limitations with cognition (Ingram, 1986)
3.1.4 Mostly completed by school age
3.2 3) Grammatical Development
3.2.1 Rules governing how words are built from morphemes and how words are combined
3.2.2 Syntax (to create well-formed sentences) requires more than one-word utterances
3.2.3 Telegraphic speech emerges at 1-3 years - focus on high content words showing grammatical ability (word order) but not using small words/ morphemes (e.g. 'ed')
3.2.4 Sentences appear at around 2-3 years Show correct subject-verb-object order Grammatical morphemes are added (sometimes with errors e.g. overregularisation)
3.2.5 Complexity of grammatical structures steadily increases with age
3.3 2) Semantic Development
3.3.1 The meaning encoded by language
3.3.2 Young infants learn 1-3 words per month (quite slow)
3.3.3 12 months: typically holophrases (can usually comprehend more than they can produce) 18 months: words are learnt more rapidly, usually 14 words per month ('explosion' in ability)
3.3.4 Development usually parallels ability to categorise objects at their basic level
3.4 4) Pragmatic development
3.4.1 Rules governing how language is used in a given context
3.4.2 Conversational turn-taking is mastered at 12 months Games like 'peek-a-boo' appear as child can actively maintain flow
3.4.3 Rules of successful interaction start to appear during pre-school years
3.4.4 Children adapt their speech to the listener during middle childhood Become more skilled to judge others' knowledge (e.g. using Theory of Mind skills)
3.5 Children must acquire skill in each of the 4 components with certain skills being more innate than others
4 Theories of Language Development
4.1 Behaviourist Theory
4.1.1 Language is learnt via operant conditioning - adults reinforce babbling to shape sound and usage of words in the correct context Reinforcement can include parental approval/ attention but may not always be explicit
4.1.2 Imitation AND reinforcement
4.1.3 In Favour: Imitation and reinforcement are sound principles in the lab etc Explain why children learn local languages/ dialect Infants do imitate adult's speech (Papousek & Papousek, 1989) Adult speech quality affects child's learning - children with mothers who talk a lot have children with larger vocabularies (Clarke-Stewart, 1973)
4.1.4 Limitations: Does not explain grammatical errors e.g. overregularisation (Pinker, 1995) Brown (1969) found that mothers corrected content more than grammar Reinforcement doesn't seem to be a practical explanation for the high rate of learning and the capability of complex sentences
4.2 Nativist Theory
4.2.1 Proposed an innate capacity for language acquisition Suggested that humans possess an innate Language Acquisition Device (LAD) The LAD detect statistical regularities in speech and forms hypotheses about them The LAD then accepts or rejects the hypotheses accordingly Embodies rules of universal grammar Humans are capable of learning any language this way
4.2.2 Sentences have surface structure and deep structure (the LAD processes the surface structure to obtain meaning) Surface structure: words and word order Deep structure: meaning Grammatical rules of deep structure are shared by all languages ('universal grammar') Rules of universal grammar are innate and embodied in the LAD
4.2.3 In favour: There is language across all cultures Children go through the same stages of development of all languages Languages share universal features (e.g. verbs and nouns) Bickerton, 1990: immigrants develop pidgin language to communicate (with no consistent word order) - they developed a highly grammatical creole language - argued that the children possess a genetic programme for language Specific brain areas have localised language function
4.2.4 Limitations: A single set of rules governing all languages has not yet been identified Does not acknowledge the importance of cognitive development Ignore effects of social experience
4.3 Cognitivist Theory
4.3.1 A child's cognition is built from sensorimotor experience - children develop schemas for objects and events
4.3.2 Cognition precedes language
4.3.3 Before age 2, schemas represent sensorimotor experience
4.3.4 After age 2, the child becomes capable of symbolic thought - language grows from broader cognitive capabilities
4.3.5 Rules are required from and reflect the child's knowledge of the world Linguistic ability reflects the child's stage of cognitive development Children of a particular age have had similar experiences and similar cognitions in a similar order and therefore are alike in linguistic ability
4.3.6 The 'Cognition Hypothesis' (Cromer, 1974) states that children understand and use particular linguistic structures, only when their cognitive abilities enable them
4.3.7 In favour: Language emerges after object permanence is achieved (taken as evidence for symbolic thought - cognitive capability) E.g. phrases such as "all gone" only occur after object permenance Children's first words are usually familiar entities (using knowledge of the world through sensorimotor experience)
4.3.8 Limitations: Ignores the importance of social influence on learning Viewed children as 'little scientists' - learning in a solitary way and ignoring the social influence around them
4.4 Social Interactionist Theory
4.4.1 Infants first learn about the social world which provides a basis for language The Language Acquisition Support System (LASS) is used to the explain the social processing underpinning language The LASS refers to the importance of the child's social support network - works in conjunction with innate mechanisms to acquire language Led to a 'spiral curriculum' which supports gradual exposure to complex topics - the way children learn language
4.4.2 Parents tend to assign meaning the children's utterances from around 3 months The child plays a role in maintaining the flow in conversational turn-taking from around 12 months From 6 months, the child will follow the mother's gaze (focusing of joint attention), allowing for communication about an object Around 9 months, the child uses gestures during joint communication
4.4.3 In favour: Supports the importance of non-verbal social behaviours Can explain poor language skills when children are raised with little, poor, or no social interaction Differences in the LASS are thought to explain differences in LA
4.4.4 Limitations: It is not clear how it explains development of grammar Ignores fundamental perceptual and cognitive processes in language acquisition
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Match the Theory to the Theorist - Language Acquisition
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Phonological Development
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Pragmatic Development
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Grammatical Development 2
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Lexical & Semantic Development
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Grammatical Development 1 - Syntax
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Features of Child Directed Speech
Stages of Language Acquisition
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