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BBI 3209 L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Wong Bee Eng Department of English Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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Presentation on theme: "BBI 3209 L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Wong Bee Eng Department of English Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia."— Presentation transcript:

1 BBI 3209 L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Wong Bee Eng Department of English Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia

2 Topics Characteristics of first language acquisition The Behaviourist Theory and first language acquisition Universal Grammar: the logical problem of first language acquisition The language acquisition device: Argument from the poverty of the stimulus Stages of first language acquisition – phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic development 2 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

3 Phone: Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

4 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION The process of acquiring language among children is also known as emergence of language. The outcome of this process is a grammar. 2 reasons for saying that the development of linguistic skills involve the acquisition of a grammar. Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

5 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION 1. Adult users of language are able to produce and understand an infinite number of novel sentences – a basic requisite of normal language use - which can only happen if they have acquired a grammar as children. 2. Another indication that children acquire a grammar, i.e. rules of a grammar, comes from their speech errors. These provide clues about how the acquisition process works. Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

6 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Since adults dont talk the way children do, the errors made by children tell us that children dont merely imitate what they hear. They create rules of their own to capture regularities that they hear in their input. Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

7 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Linguists and psychologists study, i.e. they identify and describe, the process of language acquisition by analyzing the emergence grammatical system of children. They look to the study of the following to help them: phonology morphology syntax Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

8 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Methods Most studies focus on childrens early utterances, the order in which they emerge, the kinds of errors made. 2 Complementary Approaches of data collection The naturalist approach The experimental approach Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

9 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Naturalistic approach: usually longitudinal Observe and record childrens spontaneous utterances, e.g. a. Diary study (researcher keeps daily notes on a childs linguistic progress) b. Regular taping sessions, often at biweekly intervals, an hour at a time, of the child interacting with his/her caregivers. Detailed transcripts are made for subsequent analysis. (see CHILDES – Child Language Data Exchange System) Source: OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012), pp Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

10 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Naturalistic studies Advantage : Provides a lot of information of the emergence of grammar. Disadvantages: Certain structures and phenomena may occur rarely in childrens daily speech making it difficult to gather enough data to test hypotheses or draw firm conclusions. Speech samples from individual children capture only small portion of their utterances at any given point in development (15% or less). 10 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

11 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Experimental Approach: usually cross-sectional Researchers make use of specially designed tasks to elicit linguistic activity relevant to the phenomenon they wish to study. The childs production is used to formulate hypotheses about the type of grammatical system acquired at that point in time. 11 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

12 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Types of experimental studies Use tasks that test childrens comprehension (e.g. judge truth statements made about particular pictures or situations), production (such tasks may be difficult for children), or imitation skills (such tasks can provide important clues about grammatical development) 12 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

13 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Experimental studies Advantage: They allow researchers to collect data of a very specific sort about particular phenomena or structures. Disadvantages: Difficult to design such experiments. Childrens performance may be affected by extraneous factors, e.g. inattention, shyness, or a failure to understand what is expected of them. 13 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

14 F IRST L ANGUAGE A CQUISITION Better to use naturalistic observation together with experimental techniques. Together they have advanced our knowledge of the process. 14 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

15 PHONOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT a.Babbling b. The developmental order Consonant inventory at age two StopsFricativesOther pbm f w tdn s kg 15 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

16 Consonant inventory at age four StopsFricatives AffricatesOther pbm fv ʧʤ wj tdn sz lr kgŋ ʃ 16 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

17 c. Early phonetic processes 1.Syllable simplification – systematic deletion of certain sounds in order to simplify syllable structure. e.g. delete [s] stop [t ɒ p] 2. Syllable deletion – deletion of unstressed syllables. e.g. spa ghe tti [g ǝ ] 17 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

18 3.Substitution processes – systematic replacement of one sound by an alternative that the child finds easier to articulate stopping e.g. sing [t I ŋ] change: s t fronting e.g. ship [s I p] change: ʃ s gliding e.g. lion [ja I n] change: l j denasalization e.g. room [wu:b] change: m b 18 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

19 4. Assimilation The modification of one or more features of a segment under the influence of neighbouring sounds - Initial consonants voiced in anticipation of the following vowel. e.g. tell [del] - To maintain the same place of articulation for all of the consonants or vowels in a word. e.g. doggy [g ɒ gi:] or [d ɒ di:] 19 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

20 V OCABULARY D EVELOPMENT By 18 months, the child has a vocabulary of 50 words or more. Common words refer to Entities – people, food/drinks, animals, clothes, toys, vehicles, other (e.g. bottle, key, book ) Properties – e.g. hot, dirty, here, there Actions – e.g. up, sit, see, eat, go, down Personal-social – e.g. bye, no, yes, please, thank-you 20 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

21 Noun-like words – largest class, followed by verb-like words, and adjective-like words. Over the next few years – children learn between words a day. By age 6, they have 13,000-14,000 words. 21 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

22 3 Strategies for acquiring word meaning The Whole Object Assumption A new word refers to a whole object The Type Assumption A new word refers to a type of thing, not just to a particular thing. The Basic Level Assumption A new word refers to objects that are alike in basic ways (appearance, behaviour, etc.) 22 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

23 Contextual clues Ability of the child to make use of contextual clues to draw inferences about the category and meaning of new words. e.g. Children can use the presence or absence of determiners to differentiate between names and common nouns. 23 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

24 Meaning Errors Overextensions The meaning of the childs word is more general or inclusive than that of the corresponding adult form. e.g. the word dog is frequently overextended to include horses, cows, etc. Underextensions The use of lexical items in an overly restrictive fashion. e.g. the word kitty might be used to refer to the family pet, but not to other cats. 24 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

25 Verb meanings e.g. the word fill means pour into rather than make full. Such errors disappear as children realize the actual meaning of fill. 25 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

26 Dimensional terms Terms describing size and dimensions are acquired in a relatively fixed order. 1 st group of adjectives – big, small (can be used for talking about any aspect of size – height, area, volume, etc.) 2 nd group - tall, long, short, high, low (can only be used for a single dimension – height-length) Other modifiers – thick-thin, wide-narrow, deep- shallow – more restricted in use – describe secondary or less extended dimension of an object. 26 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

27 MORPHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT Overgeneralizations or Overregularizations e.g. * mans * runned * felled 27 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

28 DEVELOPMENTAL SEQUENCE A.Typical developmental sequence for non- lexical morphemes 1.- ing 2.plural – s 3.possessive – s 4. the, a 5.past tense – ed 6.third person singular – s 7.auxiliary be 28 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

29 B. Some Determining factors 1. Frequent occurrence in utterance-final position (children tend to notice elements that occur at the end of an utterance) 2. Syllabicity (they tend to notice morphemes e.g. –ing, which are syllables on their own, than those that are single consonants, e.g. –s ) 3. Absence of homophony (this tends to hasten acquisition of a word) 4. Few or no exceptions in the way it is used (all singular Ns form possessive with –s but not all verbs form past tense with –ed ; exceptions can hinder acquisition process) 5. Allomorphic invariance (the suffix –ing has the same form for all verbs, while the –ed has 3 main allomorphs; the latter can slow down morphological development) 6. Clearly discernible semantic function (the plural –s expresses easily identifiable meaning, but 3 rd person singular –s makes no obvious contribution to meaning of a sentence; thus the latter is acquired more slowly) 29 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

30 W ORD FORMATION PROCESSES Derivation and compounding emerge early in the acquisition of English. First derivational suffixes are the most common ones in adult language. Childrens creativity with compounds shows a preference for building words from other words. Ending Meaning Word /-ness/ statesadness /-ing/ activityrunning /-er/ doer /-ie/ diminutive teacher doggie Childs word Intended meaning car-smoke N-Nexhaust firetruck-man N-Nfire fighter cup-egg N-Nboiled egg Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM 30

31 The 2 processes that apply most freely in English, i.e. the formation of a noun by the addition of the agentive affix –er to a verb ( a derivational process ) and compounding, are the first to emerge. e.g. A person who swims is a ___________. A house for a dog is a ___________. 31 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

32 SYNTACTIC DEVELOPMENT I. The one-word stage A child begins to produce one-word utterances ( holophrases = whole sentences) between the ages of 12 months and 18 months. 32 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

33 A basic property of these one-word utterances is that they can be used to express the type of meaning that would be associated with an entire sentence in adult speech. E.g. dada can mean I see daddy. Children seem to choose the most informative word that applies to the situation at hand. 33 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

34 S EMANTIC RELATIONS IN CHILDREN S ONE - WORD UTTERANCES Semantic relation UtteranceSituation Agent of an action dada as father enters the room Action or state downas child sits down Theme door as father closes the door Location hereas child points Recipient mama as child gives mother something Recurrence againas child watches lighting of a match 34 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

35 II. The two-word stage a.Within a few months of their first one-word utterances, children begin to produce two-word mini-sentences. b. The vast majority of two-word utterances employ an appropriate word order, suggesting a very early sensitivity to this feature of sentence structure. 35 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

36 S OME PATTERNS IN CHILDREN S TWO - WORD SPEECH Utterance Intended meaningSemantic relation Baby chair The baby is sitting agent-location on the chair. Doggie bark The dog is barking. agent-action Hit doggie I hit the doggie. action-theme Sam water Sam is drinking water. agent-theme Daddy hat Daddys hat. possessor-possessed 36 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

37 III.The telegraphic stage Early sentences are mainly words from the major grammatical categories of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The missing elements are determiners, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, and the bound morphemes that go on the ends of nouns and verbs. These are the grammatical morphemes. 37 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

38 It is possible that these grammatical morphemes are omitted because they are not essential to meaning. Another reason is children have cognitive limitations on the length of utterance they can produce, independent of their grammatical knowledge. 38 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

39 Given such limitations, children may sensibly leave out the least-important parts. Such words may not be stressed in adults utterances and therefore children may be leaving out unstressed elements. Other researchers also suggest that childrens underlying knowledge does not include grammatical categories that govern the use of the omitted forms. 39 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

40 IV. Later development The development of different sentence forms 1. Expressing negation 2. Asking questions Yes/no questions – can be answered with either yes or no. Wh-questions – begin with wh-words such as who, where, what, why, when, how. 40 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

41 Development of different sentence forms Expressing negation – childrens negative sentence form, in order of development i. Sentences with external negative marker e.g. No … wipe finger No the sun shining ii.Constructions with internal negative marker but no auxiliaries e.g.I cant see you I dont like you I no want book iii. Constructions with auxiliaries e.g.I didnt did it Tom wont let go No, it isnt 41 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

42 C HILDREN S QUESTION FORMS, IN ORDER OF DEVELOPMENT Yes/no questions and Wh -questions 1. Constructions with external question marker Yes/No questions Wh- questions I ride train?Who that? Sit chair?What daddy doing? Mommy milk?Where milk go? Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM 42

43 C HILDREN S QUESTION FORMS, IN ORDER OF DEVELOPMENT ( CONT.) Yes/no questions Wh-questions 2. Constructions with Auxiliaries - but no subject-auxiliary inversion in Wh -questions Yes/No questions Wh- questions Does the kitty stand up? What you did say? Will you help me? Why kitty cant run? Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM 43

44 C HILDREN S QUESTION FORMS, IN ORDER OF DEVELOPMENT ( CONT.) Yes/no questions Wh-questions 3.Subject-auxiliary inversion Yes/No questions Wh- questions - What you you doed? - What does coffee taste like? Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM 44

45 The Development of Complex Sentences After the development of grammatical morphemes and different sentence forms is well under way, the next grammatical development is the appearance of sentences that contain more than one clause. There are many different types of complex sentences, and some appear in childrens spontaneous speech much earlier than others do. 45 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

46 Childrens complex sentences, in order of development 1. Object complementation Watch me draw circles. I see you sit down. 2. Wh -embedded clauses Can I do it when we get home? I show you how to do it. 46 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

47 Childrens complex sentences, in order of development (cont.) 3. Coordinating conjunctions He was stuck, and I got him out. When I was a little girl I could go geek-geek like that, but now I can go this is a chair. 4. Subordinating conjunctions Heres a set. It must be mine if its a little one. I want this doll because shes big. 47 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

48 Individual Differences in Grammatical Development Children differ in both the rate and course of grammatical development. Differences in rate are the most obvious. Some children produce multiword utterances at age 18 months, whereas others do not start combining words until they are 2 years old. Differences in the kinds of multiword utterances children produce – some children rote-learn these as wholes; other children combine separate words from the start. 48 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

49 Some children pay more attention to syllables and phonemes; others pay more attention to the overall prosodic tune (Peters, 1997). The tune approach or holistic approach or top- down approach, results in many unanalysed chunks. e.g. Idontwanna (for I dont wanna ) The other approach is the analytical or bottom- up approach. In this approach, children break down speech into smaller units and then combine them. 49 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

50 Most children use both top-down and bottom-up strategies, and most children include both unanalyzed chunks and smaller units in their early sentences. However, children vary in how much they rely on one strategy versus the other, and the route to syntax some children take seems to be extremely holistic or extremely or extremely analytic (Hoff, 2001: 223). 50 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

51 W HAT MAKES LANGUAGE POSSIBLE ? The role of adult speech - caregiver speech The role of feedback – recasts The role of cognitive development The role of inborn knowledge 51 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

52 I S THERE A CRITICAL PERIOD ? Normal linguistic development is possible only if children are exposed to language during a particular time frame or critical period. Evidence for the existence of such a period – from studies of individuals who do not experience language during the early part of their lives, e.g. Genie. 52 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

53 BBI 3209 A SSESSMENT The assessment requirements for the course include: Assignments:30% Mid-semester test:30 % Final examination:40 % 53 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM Assignment The questions for the assignment will be sent to you by PPL.

54 Mid-semester Test The mid-semester test will include topics covered in the first face-to-face, and units 1, 2, and 3 of this module. Types of question: Multiple-choice Structural 2 questions which require longer answers (paragraphs) 54 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

55 Project 1 Deadline for submission: 2 nd Face-to-Face Task Select a Malaysian subject aged between 2 and 5 years. This subject should speak Malaysian English as the first language (L1). Make about 3 recordings of about minutes over a period of about 3 or 4 weeks at regular intervals (2 weeks). Then transcribe the subjects utterances. Investigate the acquisition of phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. 55 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

56 Describe the properties that the subject has acquired up to the point of study. If stages of development of the properties you are investigating are obvious over the period of data collection, chart them. Then, explain the phenomena you observe in the data, for example, if the subject is using certain rules to produce particular forms at a particular time. 56 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

57 Your report should include the following: A. Introduction Include the objective or provide research questions for the study. B. Literature review Write a review of L1 acquisition and the stages an infant goes through in the acquisition of English as a first language. C. Methodology Describe the subject (age, gender, background) and the procedure (collection, transcription and analysis of data). Also describe the equipment used. D. Results and discussion Analyse, interpret and discuss the data. E. Conclusion F. References 57 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

58 Your report should: 1. be around 15 pages long including appendixes (12 point, double spacing). 2. include a cover page with the course code, title of the course, your name and matriculation number. 3. have a content page. 4. have in-text referencing/citations wherever applicable (surname of author/s, year, page number). NB: Submit the hard copy of the report with a CD /soft copy which should have the taped sessions with the subject, the transcribed data and the report saved. 58 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM

59 R EFERENCES OGrady, W. & Cho, S. W. (2012). First Language Acquisition (pp ). In O Grady, W. & Archibald, J. Contemporary Linguistic Analysis: An Introduction (Seventh Edition). Toronto: Pearson Canada. Hoff, E. (2009). Language Development (Fourth Edition). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 59 Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM


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