3. CHARACTERISTICS OF
CHILDREN S LANGUAGE
Their language development shows a high
degree of similarity among children all
over the world.
• LEARNING THROUGH IMITATION
4. Before First Words -
• The earliest vocalizations
–Cooing and gurgling – showing
satisfaction or happiness
6. Before First Words -
–Babies use sounds to reflect the
characteristics of the different
language they are learning.
9. First Words
Around 12 months (“one-word”
–one or two recognizable words
(esp. content word);
10. By the age of 2 (“two-word” stage):
1) at least 50 different words
2) “telegraphic” sentences (no function
words and grammatical morphemes)
e.g., “Mommy juice”, “baby fall down”
3) reflecting the order of the language.
e.g., “kiss baby”, “baby kiss”
4) creatively combining words.
e.g., “more outside”, “all gone cookie”
11. By the age of 4
– Most children are able to:
report real events,
create stories about imaginary ones with
correct word order and grammatical
markers most of the time.
12. By the age of 4
–basic structures of the language
–less frequent and more complex
–use of the language in a widening
14. THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO L1
1) Behaviorism: Say what I say
2) Innatism: It’s all in your mind
3) Interactionist/Developmental perspectives:
Learning from inside and out
Bibliography: Lightbown, Patsy. Spada, Nina. “How languages are learned” 1993
15. 1) BEHAVIORISM: SAY WHAT I SAY
Skinner: language behaviour is the
production of correct responses to
stimuli through reinforcement.
16. Language learning is the result of:
imitation (word-for-word repetition),
practice (repetitive manipulation of form),
feedback on success (positive
17. The quality and
quantity of the
language that the
as well as the
consistency of the
offered by others in
would shape the
19. Children’s practice of new
– substitution drills.
– It is selective and reflects what they would like
– They pick out patterns/rules and then
generalize or overgeneralize them to new
22. Chomsky (1959) argues that
behaviorism cannot provide
sufficient explanations for
children’s language acquisition
for the following reasons:
23. –Children come to know more
about the structure of their
language than they could be
expected to learn on the basis of
the samples of language they hear.
24. – The language children are exposed to
includes false starts, incomplete
sentences and slips of the tongue, and
yet they learn to distinguish between
grammatical and ungrammatical
– Children are by no means
systematically corrected or instructed
on language by parents.
25. Children are In the same
biologically way of other
for language functions
27. LAD: LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
DEVICE ( or BLACK BOX)
– It contains all and only the principles which are
universal to all human languages
(i.e.. Universal Grammar – UG).
28. If children are pre-
equipped with UG.
What they have to learn is
The ways in which their
own language make use
of those principles
children need discover the the innate
access only structure of knowledge of
to samples of the basic
a natural language to grammatical
language be learned principles (UG)
Once the to the
as a trigger LAD is the particular
the device. activated language in the
• Children’s acquisition of grammatical rules
is guided by principles of an innate UG
which could apply to all languages.
• Children “know” certain things of the
language just by being exposed to a
limited number of samples.
31. Evidence used to support Chomsky’s
Virtually all children
successfully learn their native language
at a time in life
when they would not be expected
to learn anything else so complicated
(i.e. biologically programmed).
32. –Language is separate from
other aspects of cognitive
(e.g., creativity and social grace)
and may be located in a different
“module" of the brain.
36. The biological basis for the innatist
The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) –Lenneberg:
• There is a specific and limited time period
(i.e., “critical period”) for the LAD to work
• Only when it is stimulated
at the right time
37. ONLY BY
IT WILL BE MORE
38. Virtually every child learns language on a
similar schedule in spite of different
– Three case studies of abnormal language
development - evidence of the CPH
•Victor – a boy of about 12 years old
•Genie – a girl of 13 years old (1970)
•Deaf signers (native signers, early
learners, vs. late learners)
41. Problems of Innatism:
Too much emphasis on
the “final state”
but not enough on the
developmental aspects of
42. • Language was
of the cognitive and affective ability
to deal with the world
dealt with FORMS of the language,
not with the FUNCTIONAL levels
of meaning constructed from
43. INTERACTIONISM: Bruner
is an example of children’s ability to learn
What children need to know
is essentially available
in the language
they are exposed to.
44. the innate learning
ability of children
in which they
46. CARETAKER TALK
• It is the way adults modify their speech
when communicating with kids.
• Slower rate of speech
• Higher pitch
• More varied intonation
• Shorter simpler sentence patterns
• Frequent repetition
49. Developmental psychologists
attribute more importance to the
But they recognize a powerful learning
mechanism in the human brain.
51. The interaction
between the child
things which can be
observed, touched, and
was one of a number of
developed in childhood,
rather than a separate
module of the mind.
can be used to represent knowledge
that children have acquired
through physical interaction with the environment.
Sociocultural theory of human mental
He argued that language develops primarily
from social interaction.
55. Zone of proximal development
• A level that a child is able to do when there is
support from interaction with a more advanced
• A supportive interactive environment enables
children to advance to a higher level of
knowledge and performance than s/he would be
able to do independently.
57. Vygotsky observed the importance
of conversations which children
have with adults and with other
children and saw in these
conversations the origins of both
language and thought.
59. The Child's Language Environment
• There is NO DIRECT PRESSURE to learn
• There is NO TIME LIMIT for learning.
• There is NO WAY OF ESCAPING into a
different language (no vacations).
• The language is NOT SEQUENCED BY
GRAMMAR OR VOCABULARY (no
60. The Child's Language Environment
• There is LOTS OF REPETITION
• Both the LANGUAGE AND THE WORLD
• All the language is spoken IN THE
CONTEXT OF THE SURROUNDING
• THE LANGUAGE IS ALL AROUND.
61. The Child's Language Environment
• The child has MANY OPPORTUNITIES
FOR USING the language to communicate
to those around him.
• Much of THE LANGUAGE IS SIMPLIFIED
to the level of understanding of the child.
62. The Child's Learning Strategies
• The child in NOT INTERESTED IN
LANGUAGE for its own sake.
• The child is NOT DISTURBED by the
language he does not understand.
• The child ENJOYS THE REPETITIVE
events of his life, and uses this enjoyment
to help him learn.
63. The Child's Learning Strategies
• The child USES HIS PRIMARY
INTERESTS to help him learn.
• The child directs his attention to things that
are EASY TO UNDERSTAND.
• The child possesses a natural desire TO
CALL AN OBJECT BY ITS NAME.
64. The Child's Learning Strategies
• The child adds words to his speaking
vocabulary more easily IF HE ALREADY
KNOWS HOW TO PRONOUNCE THEM.
• The child IMMEDIATELY USES the
language, and his SUCCESS IN
65. The Child's Learning Strategies
• The child uses his natural desire TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE LIFE AROUND
HIM to help him learn new language.
• The child brings TREMENDOUS
INGENUITY to the task of learning.