1. Language is the medium of communication and mostly
manifested in written, oral and manual forms.
Language is a cognition that truly makes us human. Whereas
other species do communicate with an innate ability to
produce a limited number of meaningful vocalizations, or
even with partially learned systems, there is no other
species known to date that can express infinite ideas
(sentences) with a limited set of symbols (speech sounds
Language refers to a form of communication in which we
learn to use complex rules to form and manipulate symbols
that are to generate an endless number of meaningful
Sequence of Language Development staring at birth.
Language is practically absent, at about 4 weeks small
throaty sounds are noticed and around five year’s child
speaks without infantile articulation.
2. Language Acquisition is the process by which
humans acquire the capacity to perceive,
produce and use words to understand and
3. Theories of Language Development
• The different theories of language development can be broadly classified
into three approaches: Behaviorism, Nativism and Interactionism
• Behaviorism: Behaviorism holds that language develops as a result of
• Nativism: it holds that language development is inborn. The nativist
perspective argues that humans are biologically programmed to gain
knowledge. The main theorist associated with this perspective is Noam
• Interactionism: it emphasizes the interaction between environmental
influences and innate abilities in language development.
• Interactionists argue that language development is both biological and
• Interactionists argue that language learning is influenced by the desire of
children to communicate with others.
• The Interactionists argue that "children are born with a powerful brain
that matures slowly and predisposes them to acquire new
understandings that they are motivated to share with others"
• The main theorist associated with interactionist theory is Lev Vygotsky.
Interactionists focus on Vygotsky's model of collaborative learning.
4. How is Language Structured
The basic elements of Language are:
• Syntax- Set of rules and principles for
• Semantics- Study of meaning of sentences.
• Pragmatics- Studies the ways in which context
contributes to meaning
5. Stages of language acquisition
There are five basic stages of language acquisition:
• Cooing: Appears at about 6 months or so. All infants coo using all the
phonemes from every language. It comprises mostly of vowel sounds.
• Babbling: to talk or say something in a quick, confused, excited or
foolish way. It Appears at around 9 months. Infants are starting to
selectively use the phonemes from their native language.
• Consonants are also introduced along with vowels and he is able to
correlate words with objects or people. It starts using words with
repetitive sounds like “dada”, “mama” etc.
• One-word utterances: At around 12 months, children start using
words. Starts using fairly complex words. Also can recognize correct
pronunciation of familiar words. The next stage observed is two word
utterance by age of 18 months.
• Telegraphic speech: Children start making multi-word utterances that
lack function words i.e. conjunctions & articles. (about 2 years old) for
eg. “water now”
• Normal speech: By about 5-6 years of age, children have almost
normal speech with good command over syntax and semantics. In later
stage development of vocabulary and pragmatics takes place.
6. The stages of language acquisition
• from birth to about 6 months – so called pre
• at around 6-8 months onset of babbling (first
manifestation of phonology)
• at around 10-12 months first words
• at around 20-24 months onset of the two-
word stage ( first manifestation of syntax)
• till about 36-40 months: so called ‘telegraphic
• By about 5-6 years of age Normal speech
7. Functions of Language
Language performs a number of functions based on the purpose of its use. Language
with a functional purpose is illustrated by Michael Halliday as follows :
• Instrumental: Language performs'an instrumental function the way an individual
satisfies the need by asking for something (May I drink some water?).
• Regulatory: It performs a regulatory function controlling another's behaviour (e.g.
Teacher asks the student, "Stay quiet, please").
• Interactional: It performs an interactional function-used for maintaining
interpersonal (eg. wishing a friend a happy birthday).
• Personal: Language performs a personal function - where one talks about oneself
(e.g. I am feeling very elated today).
• Heuristic: It performs a heuristic function to find out about the world in general (le
.g. Is there a drug to cure Cancer?)
• Imaginative: It performs an imaginative function where one talks about one's
imagination (e.g. write an essay on the topic "you are on the clouds").
• Informational: It also performs an informational function - to seek and give varied
types of information (e.g. What is the current rate of population growth in our
8. • Chomsky
• Noam Chomsky American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician,
political commentator and activist. Sometimes described as the “father of modern
• He argues that language acquisition is an innate structure, or function, of the
• Chomsky believes that there are structures of the brain that control the
interpretation and production of speech.
• Children do not need any kind of formal teaching to learn to speak. Chomsky
proposed that all humans have a language acquisition device (LAD).
Language Acquisition Device
• All human being are born with an innate tendency to learn a language . This innate
, language specific ability that facilitate the acquisition of language in man is called
Language Acquisition Device. The LAD processes and shapes the primary linguistic
data received by the child from his surroundings and enables him to acquire ideas
about the rules of language.
• The LAD contains knowledge of grammatical rules common to all languages.
• LAD which encodes the major principles of a language and its grammatical
structures into the child’s brain. Children have then only to learn new vocabulary
and apply the syntactic structures from the LAD to form sentences
9. Universal Grammar
He later expanded this idea into that of Universal Grammar,
a set of innate principles and adjustable parameters that
are common to all human languages. All the languages of
the world have the same basic underlying grammatical
structure. All the languages of the world share similar
characteristics of using nouns, verbs, pronouns though
necessarily in a similar manner.
Chomsky points out that a child could not possibly learn a
language through imitation alone because the language
spoken around them is highly irregular – adult’s speech is
often broken up and even sometimes ungrammatical.
Every language is extremely complex, However, all children,
regardless of their intellectual ability, become fluent in
their native language within five or six years. The LAD also
allows children to understand the rules of whatever
language they are listening to.
10. Chomsky also developed the concepts of
transformational grammar, surface structure, and
• Transformational grammar is grammar that
transforms a sentence. It is a set of rules which
allows us to transform the meaning of a sentence
into the actual words in the sentence.
• Surface structures are words that are actually
written. Surface structure of sentence consist of the
words and their organization.
• Deep structure is the underlying message or
meaning of a sentence. The deep structure exist in
long term memory as a set of abstract concepts and
12. Vygotsky and language development
Language is a social concept that is developed through social
interactions. According to Lev Vygotsky, a 20th-century
Soviet psychologist, language acquisition involves not only a
child exposure to words but also an interdependent process
of growth between thought and language.
Vygotskys influential theory of the "zone of proximal
development" asserts that teachers should consider a child
prospective learning power before trying to expand the child
grasp of language.
Vygotsky theory of language is based on constructivist learning
theory, which contends that children acquire knowledge as a
result of engaging in social experiences.
• A child intellectual development is crucial to his language
development. By interacting with his environment, a child
develops the ability to develop private, inner speech.
13. Vygotsky viewed language as man’s greatest
tool, a means for communicating with the
outside world. According to Vygotsky (1962)
language plays two critical roles in cognitive
1. It is the main means by which adults transmit
information to children.
2. Language itself becomes a very powerful tool
of intellectual adaptation.
14. Vygotsky (1987) differentiates between three forms of
• social speech which is external communication used to
talk to others (typical from the age of two);
• private speech (typical from the age of three) which is
directed to the self and serves an intellectual function;
Vygotsky sees "private speech" as a means for children
to plan activities and strategies and therefore aid their
development. Private speech is the use of language for
self-regulation of behavior.
• Finally private speech goes underground, diminishing
in audibility as it takes on a self-regulating function and
is transformed into silent inner speech (typical from
the age of seven)
15. • Stages in language development
• The primitive / Natural Stage : it is characterised by pre-
intellectual speech and preverbal thought
• Native psychological stage : it is characterised by : the
child’s experience with his own body and objectives and
the use of tools and increasingly correct use of language
structure without the understanding of their logical
• Egocentric speech stage: it is characterised the use of
external sign as aids in the solution of internal problems,
counting on the fingers
• In growth stage: the external operations turn inward,
develop the ability for counting , develop logical memory.
16. Vygotsky and language development
1. Language is a social concept that is developed through social
interactions. According to Lev Vygotsky, a 20th-century Soviet
psychologist, language acquisition involves not only a childs
exposure to words but also an interdependent process of growth
between thought and language.
Vygotskys influential theory of the "zone of proximal development"
asserts that teachers should consider a childs prospective learning
power before trying to expand the childs grasp of language.
2. Vygotskys theory of language is based on constructivist learning
theory, which contends that children acquire knowledge as a result
of engaging in social experiences. "Through social and language
interactions, older and more experienced members of a community
teach younger and less experienced members the skills, values, and
knowledge needed to be productive members of that community,"
3. According to Vygotsky, words are signals. Rather than engage
children in a primary signal system, in which objects are referred to
merely as themselves, adults engage children in a secondary signal
system, in which words represent objects and ideas.
17. 4. A childs intellectual development is crucial to his language
development. By interacting with his environment, a child
develops the ability to develop private, inner speech.
5. Through the development of inner speech, children straddle
the divide between thought and language, eventually being
able to express their thoughts coherently to others.
6. The language learning process occurs as a result of give and
take. Parents and teachers usher a child through a process of
guided discovery, addressing her learning potential.
Eventually, children internalize language skills.
7. Vygotskys constructivist language theory exists in opposition
to Jean Piagets theory of language acquisition. According to
Piaget, children construct knowledge about language through
a complex process of assimilation, stressing the inherent
capability of a childs brain to adapt to stimulation. By
contrast, Vygotsky stresses the social nature of language
learning, emphasizing the environment within which a child
18. Problems of Language Development
Children develop language skills through socialisation. School
is a socialising agency where children learn their language.
But all children are not in equal their language ability. Some
children face problems in this regard. The main problems of
language development faced by children are presented as
• Lack of initial listening and speaking opportunities.
• Inability to express through the spoken or written medium.
• Blocks due to genetic impairment of emotional problems of
an impoverished environment.
• Ambiguities in comprehension such as phonological, lexical
or deep structural ambiguities, etc.
• Inadequate cognition of word meanings.
• Poor concept development.
• Over emphasis on writing prematurely