2 Four Theories about Language Acquisition Imitation (modeling)Reinforcement (Rewards and Punishment)Constructing grammar from input/experience(1- 3 are all learning theories)Absorption of a specific language into an already existing general language structure in the brain: “innateness hypothesis”
3 Imitation : Children memorize words and sentences they hear from a language. ConsChildren use forms of words that adults never sayThe mistakes children make are consistent between children and between language groupsChildren produce words and sentences they have never heard.Children undertand words and sentences they have never heard.XProsLanguage symbols are arbitrary and not logically connected to the things they representChildren only learn the language people around them speakConsensus says“Cons” Win !
4 Reinforcement: Children learn to speak by being praised or corrected by adults. ConsCorrections are rare when total number of speech events is considered.Praise is rare when the total number of speech events is considered.Even without ANY praise or corrections children acquire languagePraise or corrections frequently don’t change child language.XPros???????Consensus says“Cons” Win !
5 Input/Experience : Children figure out and learn grammatical patterns from hearing adult language patternsConsThe speed with which children acquire all of the grammatical patterns of a language is so rapid that is is difficult to see how they can figure out all grammar from experience in so short a timeProsChildren make systematic mistakes in grammar by “over regularizing” formsA Tie?
6 Over Regularized Forms Verb FormsChildren learn such past tense patterns as e.g. walked, hugged, wanted,then apply the rules to irregular verbse.g.“bringed”, “eated”, “runned”NounsGiven nonsense nouns like “wug” children make them plural by adding “s”andChildren regularize plurals of irregular nouns e.g. womans, mans
7 Innateness Hypothesis 1 Innateness Hypothesis 1. Children’s brains have a “language acquisition device” that already contains the full range of structural possibilities inherent in language (“universal grammar”) . This device absorbs the specific language the child hears Children use the structural patterns they hear and discard the structural patterns they do not hear Children do not have to learn structural patterns. They only have to choose between them.
8 Lenneberg’s Six Components of Innate Behavior Emerges before it is necessary.Is not the result of a conscious decision.Is not triggered by external events.Teaching and practice have little effectThere is a regular developmental sequenceEmerges during a critical period of development
9 Language emerges before it is necessary. Language emerges between the ages of 12 and 24 months while the child is completely dependent on parents for survival.Although language will be an important survival tool, it is important to survival at this age.
10 2. Language acquisition is not the result of a conscious decision. There is no evidence that children decide to learn language.Early language is an spontaneous game that happens between babies and their caretakers, not a conscious goal.
11 3. Language acquisition is not triggered by external events. There is nothing that causes the emergence of language to begin. All children begin playing with sound and language regardless of the context in which they live.Children require input, but even children who do not interact with others begin the stages of language acquisition. Without external input they may not succeed in acquiring language, but they still initiate the same behaviors as isolated children.
12 4. Teaching and practice have little effect on language acquisition. Parents do not give lessons to their children to get them to acquire language.Praise and correction do not occur with enough frequency to account for language proficiencyPraise and correction may have little effect on language acquisition.Children produce language they have not heard from othersChildren learn language too rapidly to logically derive all linguistic rules from experience
13 “Poverty of the Stimulus” If language is learned, then children should only produce words and sentences they have heard.If language is learned, then children should only understand words and sentences they have heard.
14 5. There is a regular developmental sequence to language acquisition. Language is acquired in a universal series of stages regardless of the cultural and/or linguistic contexta. Babblingb. Holophrastic speech (1 word)c. Telegraphic speech (2 word)d. Functional morpheme acquisition ordere. Acquisition of negatives
15 a. Babbling4 to 12 monthsBabies begin with strings of sounds and by 12 months are babbling the full range of sounds used in human speech.Syllables can be detected in babblingIntonation patterns can be detected in babblingDeaf children babble with gestures
16 b. Holophrastic Speech At about 1 year The first stage of symbolic connection of sounds with meaningsOne word sentencese.g. Go!e.g “afuf”e.g. “ahbee”
17 c. Telegraphic Speech 18 to 24 months Two word sentences e.g. Mommy up.e.g. Me go.Evidence of syntax – ordering two meaning symbolsLack function words like articles, helping verbs, etc.
18 c. Functional Morphemes At 2 ½ to 3 yearsAdd functional morphemes that adjust the meanings of words1. Addition of ing to verbs2. Add prepositions in and on3. Addition of “s”1st to plural nouns2nd to possessive nouns3rd to present tense verbs4. Addition of articles (a, an, the)5. Forms of “to be” (is going ra th go)
19 c. Acquisition of Negatives 1. No in front of sentence“No I go.”2. Negative between subject and verb“I no go.”3. Correct grammatical integration
20 6. There is a critical period for language development. Childhood stages are quite regularAbility to acquire language after puberty declines in all humans regardless of cultural and/or linguistic contextPeople who learn a language after puberty retain their first language accent.Deaf individuals who learn to sign after puberty sign significantly differently than those who learn before.
21 Language Development and Lateralization of the Brain Lenneberg hypothesized that the acquisition of language is tied to the lateralization of the brain, which begins at about 2 years old and proceeds until puberty.
22 Isabelle and Genie ISABELLE GENIE found at 6.5 years cognitively delayedno aural linguistic inputlived w/ deaf mom in isolationat 8.5 yrs, achieved normal language skillGENIEfound at 13 yearscognitively delayedno linguistic inputchained in dark roomlearned complex vocabulary but never acquired syntax
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