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1 Chapter 1. Language Learning in Early Childhood Definitions of L1, L2, FL, TL Patterns and sequences in L1 development Theoretical approaches to first.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Chapter 1. Language Learning in Early Childhood Definitions of L1, L2, FL, TL Patterns and sequences in L1 development Theoretical approaches to first."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Chapter 1. Language Learning in Early Childhood Definitions of L1, L2, FL, TL Patterns and sequences in L1 development Theoretical approaches to first language acauisition: Behaviorism, Innatism, and Interactionism Childhood bilingualism

2 2 Definitions of L1 & L2 Definition of “ first language ” (L1): The language(s) that an individual learns first. Other terms for “ first language ” - Native language or mother tongue Definition of “ second language ” (L2): Any language other than the first language learned (in a broader sense). A language learned after the first language in a context where the language is used widely in the speech community (in a narrower sense). e.g., For many people in Taiwan, their L1 is Taiwanese and L2 is Mandarin.

3 3 Definitions of FL & TL Definition of “foreign language” (FL) A second (or third, or fourth) language learned in a context where the language is NOT widely used in the speech community. This is often contrasted with second language learning in a narrower sense. e.g., English or Japanese is a foreign language for people in Taiwan. Definition of “target language” (TL) A language which is being learned, where it is the first language or a second, third language. e.g., English is a target language for you now.

4 4 Patterns in L1 Development Characteristics of the language of children : Their language development shows a high degree of similarity among children all over the world. There are predicable patterns in the L1 development and their L1 developmental patterns are related to their cognitive development (predictability). Their language reflects the word order of the language that they are hearing. The combination of the words has a meaning relationship (learning through imitation). Their language also shows they are able to apply the rules of the language to make sentences which they have never heard before (creativity).

5 5 Patterns in L1 Development Before First Words - The earliest vocalizations Involuntary crying (when they feel hungry or uncomfortable) Cooing and gurgling – showing satisfaction or happiness “ Babbling ” Babies use sounds to reflect the characteristics of the different language they are learning.

6 6 Patterns in L1 Development First Words – Around 12 months ( “ one-word ” stage): Babies begin to produce one or two recognizable words (esp. content word); producing single-word sentences. 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”

7 7 L1 Developmental Sequences Acquisition of Grammatical morphemes Acquisition of Negation (to deny, reject, disagree with, and refuse something) Acquisition of Questions

8 8 Acquisition of Grammatical morphemes Roger Brown ’ s study (1973): - approximate order of acquiring grammatical morphemes Present progressive – ing (running) Plural – s (books) Irregular past forms (went) Possessive - ’ s (daddy’s hat) Copula (am/is/are) Articles (a/an/the) Regular past – ed (walked) Third person singular simple present – s (he runs) Auxiliary ‘ be ’ (He is coming)

9 Acquisition of Grammatical morphemes e.g., “wug test” – 1) Here is a wug. Now there are two of them. There are two ______. 2) John knows how to bod. Yesterday he did the same thing. Yesterday, he_______. Through the tests, children demonstrate that they know the rules for the formation of plural and simple past in English. By generalizing these patterns to words they have never heard before, they show that their language is not just a list of memorized word pairs such as ‘book/books’ and ‘nod/nodded’. 9

10 10 Acquisition of Negation Lois Bloom ’ s study (1991) – four stages Stage 1: ‘no’ – e.g., “No go”. “No cookie.” Stage 2: subject + no – e.g., “Daddy no comb hair.” Stage 3: auxiliary or modal verbs (do/can) + not (Yet no variations for different persons or tenses) e.g., “I can’t do it “, “He don’t want it.” Stage 4: correct form of auxiliary verbs (did/doesn’t/is/are) + not e.g., He didn’t go. She doesn’t want it. But sometimes double negatives are used e.g., I don’t have no more candies.

11 11 Acquisition of Questions Lois Bloom’s study (1991): Order of the occurrence of wh- question words 1. “ What ” - Whatsat? Whatsit? 2. “ Where ” and “ who ” 3. “ Why ” (emerging at the end of the 2nd year and becomes a favorite at the age of 3 or 4) 4. “ How ” and “ When ” (yet children do not fully understand the meaning of adults ’ responses) e.g., Child: When can we go outside? Mother: In about 5 minutes. Child: ! Can we go now?

12 12 Acquisition of Questions Lois Bloom ’ s study (1991): Six stages of children ’ s question-making Stage 1: using single words or single two- or three-word sentences with rising intonation (“Mommy book?” “Where’s Daddy?”) Stage 2: using the word order of the declarative sentence (“You like this?” “Why you catch it?”) Stage 3: “fronting” - putting a verb at the beginning of a sentence (“Is the teddy is tired?” “Do I can have a cookie?”)

13 13 Acquisition of Questions Lois Bloom ’ s study (1991) – six stages (II) Stage 4: subject-auxiliary inversion in yes/no questions but not in wh-questions (“Do you like ice cream?” “Where I can draw?”) Stage 5: subject-auxiliary inversion in wh-questions, but not in negative wh-questions (“Why can he go out?” “Why he can’t go out?”) Stage 6: overgeneralizing the inverted form in embedded questions (“I don’t know why can’t he go out.”)

14 14 Patterns in L1 Development By the age of 4: Most children are able to ask questions, give commands, report real events, and create stories about imaginary ones with correct word order and grammatical markers most of the time. They have mastered the basic structures of the language or languages spoken to them in these early years. They begin to acquire less frequent and more complex linguistic structures such as passives and relative clauses. They begin to develop ability to use language in a widening social environment.

15 15 Development of Metalinguistic Awareness Metalinguistic awareness refers to the ability to treat language as an object, separate from the meaning it conveys. A dramatic development in metalinguistic awareness occurs when children begin to learn to read. They see words represented by letters on a page and start to discover that words and sentences have multiple meaning. e.g., “drink the chair” (5 year-olds’ reaction: silly) “cake the eat” (5 year-olds’ reaction: wrong) “Why is caterpillar longer than train?” (a riddle)

16 16 Development of Vocabulary One of the most impressive language developments in the early school years is the astonishing growth of vocabulary. Vocabulary grows at a rate between several hundred and more than a thousand words a year, depending mainly on how much and how widely children read. Vocabulary growth required for school success is likely to come from both reading for assignments and reading for pleasure. Reading a variety of text types is an essential part of vocabulary growth. Reading reinforces the understanding that language has form as well as meaning and a “ word ” is separate from the thing it represents. Another important development in the school years is the acquisition of different language registers.

17 17 Theoretical Approaches to L1 Acquisition Behaviorism: Say what I say Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind Interactionist/Developmental perspectives: Learning from inside and out

18 18 Behaviorism: Say what I say Skinner: language behavior is the production of correct responses to stimuli through reinforcement. Language learning is the result of 1) imitation (word-for- word repetition), 2) practice (repetitive manipulation of form), 3) feedback on success (positive reinforcement), and 4) habit formation. The quality and quantity of the language that the child hears, as well as the consistency of the reinforcement offered by others in the environment, would shape the child’s language behavior. (*Do the activity on p. 10 – imitation and practice)

19 19 Behaviorism: Say what I say Children ’ s imitations are not random: Their imitation is selective and based on what they are currently learning. They choose to imitate something they have already begun to understand, rather than simply imitating what is available in the environment. (see example on p. 11, Peter’s & Cindy’s case) Children ’ s practice of new language forms The way they practice new forms is very similar to the way foreign language students do substitution drills. Their practice of language forms is also selective and reflects what they would like to learn. They are often in charge of the conversation with adults. (see example on p. 12, Kathryn’s case)

20 20 Behaviorism: Say what I say However, children do use language creatively, not just repeat what they have heard. (see examples on pp ) Patterns in language Mother: Maybe we need to take you to the doctor. Randall (36 months): Why? So he can doc my little bump? ” (showing the understanding of the suffix ‘ er/or ’) Son: I putted the plates on the table! Mother: You mean, I put the plates on the table. Son: No, I putted them on all by myself. (showing the understanding of using ‘ed’ to make the past tense for a verb” and the focus on the meaning, not form) Unfamiliar formulas Father: I ’ d like to propose a toast. Child: I ’ d like to propose a piece of bread. Mother:I love you to pieces. Child:I love you three pieces.

21 Question formation Are dogs can wiggle their tails? Are those are my boots? Are this is hot? Order of events You took all the towels away because I can’t dry my hands. Imitation and practice alone cannot explain some of the forms created by children. Children appear to pick out patterns and then generalize or overgeneralize them to new contexts. They create new forms or new uses of words. Behaviorism: Say what I say

22 Chomsky’s viewpoints: Children are biologically programmed for language and language develops in the child in just the same way that other biological functions develop. The environment makes only a basic contribution, that is, the availability of people who speak to the child. Therefore, the child’s biological endowment (LAD) will do the rest. Children are born with a specific innate ability to discover for themselves the underlying rules of a language system on the basis of the samples of a natural language they are exposed to. Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind

23 23 Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind Chomsky argues that behaviorism cannot provide sufficient explanations for children ’ s language acquisition for the following reasons: 1. 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. 2. 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 sentences. 3. Children are by no means systematically corrected or instructed on language by parents.

24 24 Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind LAD (an imaginary “ black box ” existing somewhere in the brain): LAD contains the principles which are universal to all human languages (i.e.. Universal Grammar – UG). For the LAD to work, children need access only to samples of a natural language, which serve as a trigger to activate the device. Once the LAD is activated, children are able to discover the structure of the language to be learned by matching the innate knowledge of basic grammatical principles (UG) to the structures of the particular language in the environment.

25 25 Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind Evidence used to support Chomsky’s innatist position : 1. 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). 2. Language is separate from other aspects of cognitive developments (e.g., creativity and social grace) and may be located in a different “module" of the brain. 3. The language children are exposed to does not contain examples of all the linguistic rules and patterns. 4. Animals cannot learn to manipulate a symbol system as complicated as the natural language of a 3- or 4-year-old child. 5. Children acquire grammatical rules without getting explicit instruction. Therefore, children’s acquisition of grammatical rules is probably guided by principle of an innate UG which could apply to all languages.

26 26 Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind The biological basis for the innatist position: The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) – Lenneberg: There is a specific and limited time period (i.e., “critical period”) for the LAD to work successfully. The best evidence for the CPH is that virtually every child learns language on a similar schedule in spite of different environments.

27 27 Innatism: It ’ s all in your mind Three case studies of abnormal language development - evidence of the CPH (Read the case studies on pp ). 1.Victor – a boy of about 12 years old (1799) 2.Genie – a girl of 13 years old (1970) 3.Deaf signers (native signers, early learners, vs. late learners)

28 28 Interactionist/developmental Perspectives: Learning from inside and out Problems of Innatism: The innatists placed too much emphasis on the “final state” (i.e. the linguistic competence of adult native speakers), but not enough on the developmental aspects of language acquisition. Language acquisition is an example of children’s ability to learn from experience. What children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to.

29 29 Interactionist/developmental Perspectives: Learning from inside and out This position views that language develops as a result of the interplay between the innate learning ability of children and the environment in which they develop. Developmental psychologists attribute more importance to the environment than the innatists, though they also recognize a powerful learning mechanism in the human brain. They see language acquisition as similar to and influenced by the acquisition of other kinds of skill and knowledge, rather than as something that is largely independent of the child’s experience and cognitive development.

30 30 The Interactionist Position Piaget : Language is dependent upon and springs from cognitive development. That is, children’s cognitive development determines their language development. (e.g., the use of words as “bigger” or “more” depends on children’s understanding of the concepts they represent.) He argued that the developing cognitive understanding is built on the interaction between the child and the things which can be observed, touched, and manipulated. For him, language was one of a number of symbol systems developed in childhood, rather than a separate module of the mind. Language can be used to represent knowledge that children have acquired through physical interaction with the environment.

31 31 The Interactionist Position Vygotsky : sociocultural theory of human mental processing. He argued that language develops primarily from social interaction. Zone of proximal development (ZPD): a level that a child is able to do when there is support from interaction with a more advanced interlocutor. That is, 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. He 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.

32 32 The Interactionist Position How Piaget ’ s view differs from Vygotsky ’ s: Piaget hypothesized that language developed as a symbol system to express knowledge acquired through interaction with the physical world. Vygotsky hypothesized that thought was essentially internalized speech, and speech emerged in social interaction.

33 33 The Interactionist Position Language socialization framework: observed from childrearing patterns (parent-child interaction) Child-directed Speech (modified language interaction): Phonological modification: a slower rate of delivery, higher pitch, more varied intonation Syntactical modification: shorter, simpler sentence patterns, frequent repetition, and paraphrase. Limited conversation topics: e.g., the ‘here and now’ and topics related to the child’s experiences. More important than modification is the conversational give-and-take.

34 The Interactionist Position The interaction between a language-learning child and an interlocutor who responds in some way to the child is important (Jim’s case). Exposure to impersonal sources of language such as television or radio alone are not sufficient for children to learn the structure of a particular language. One-on-one interaction gives children access to language that is adjusted to their level of comprehension. Once children have acquired some language, however, television can be a source of language and cultural information. 34

35 35 Connectionism Though both innatism and connectionism look at the cognitive aspect of language acquisition, yet they differ in the following: Connectionists hypothesize that language acquisition dose not require a separate “ module of the mind ” but can be explained in terms of learning in general. Connectionists argue that what children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to. They attribute greater importance to the role of the environment than to any innate knowledge in the learner.

36 Connectionism Connectionism views language as a complex system of units which become interconnected in the mind as they are encountered together. The more often units are heard or seen together, the more likely it is that the presence of one will lead to the activation of the other. Language acquisition is not just a process of associating words with elements of external reality. It is also a process of associating words and phrases with the other words and phrases that occur with them, or words with grammatical morphemes that occur with them. 36

37 37 The Interactionist Position Watch the video clip “ Baby Talk ” from the Interactionist position. Read the following questions first: 1. According to Bruner, in what ways do children learn syntax, semantics, and pragmatics? 2. Why do many researchers think Chomsky ’ s innatism is not sufficient? 3. According to Berko-Gleason, how do parents or caretakers help children with their verbal development? 4. What is the purpose for parents to play the ‘ thank-you ’ game with children? 5. Interactionists stress that language use is not only referential but it can be used for social purposes. Can you give examples for these two types of purposes? 6. Why is it too simplistic to think children either memorize or analyze things they hear and then they produce language? What example did Berko-Gleason give to support her points? 7. How do children learn ‘ routinized ’ phrases?

38 38 Childhood bilingualism “ Simultaneous bilinguals ” Children who learn more than one language from birth. “ Sequential bilinguals ” Children who begin to learn a second language after they have acquired the first language.

39 39 Childhood bilingualism Is it difficult for children to cope with 2 language? 1. There is little support for the myth that learning more than one language in early childhood slows down the child ’ s linguistic development or interferes with cognitive and academic development. 2. Bilingualism can have positive effects on abilities that are related to academic success, such as metalinguistic awareness. 3. The learning of languages for bilingual children is more related to the circumstances in which each language is learned than to any limitation in the human capacity to learn more than one language.

40 40 Childhood bilingualism Language attrition for bilinguals - “ Subtractive bilingualism ” (Lambert, 1987)  When children are “ submerged ” in a second language for long periods in early schooling, they may begin to lose their native language (L1) before they have developed an age-appropriate mastery of the L2.  It can have negative consequences for children’s self- esteem.  In some cases, children continue to be caught between two languages; not having mastered the L2, but not having continued to develop the L1.

41 41 Childhood bilingualism Solution for “subtractive bilingualism”: to strive for “additive bilingualism” Parents should continue speaking the L1 to their children to maintain the home language, while the L2 is being learned at school. Maintaining the family language also creates opportunities for the children to continue both cognitive and affective development in a language they understand easily while they are still learning the L2.

42 42 Summary Each of the three theoretical approaches explains a different aspect of first language acquisition. 1. Behaviorists (learning through imitation, practice, reinforcement, habit-formation) – the acquisition of vocabulary and grammatical morphemes. 2. Innatists (LAD/UG/CPH) – the acquisition of complex grammar (structure of the language). 3. Interactionists (social interaction) – the acquisition of how form and meaning are related, how communicative functions are carried out, and how language is used appropriately.


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