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First language Acquisition

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1 First language Acquisition

2 objectives Know the language system a child of the age 5 acquire.
List the issues that are related to 1L acquisition. Explain the theories that interpret 1L acquisition. List the requirements for L1 acquisition. Explain the role of Caretaker speech (motherese) in L1 acquisition. Explain the stages of L1 acquisition. Explain how children develop morphological, syntactic and semantic language systems.

3 “The capacity to learn language is deeply ingrained in us as a species, just as the capacity to walk, to grasp objects, to recognize faces. We don’t find any serious difference in children growing up in congested urban slums, in isolated mountain villages, or in privileged suburban villas” Dan Slobin, The Human Language Series 2 (1994)

4 First language acquisition
Every language is complex. Before the age of 5, the child knows most of the intricate system of grammar: Use the syntactic, phonological, morphological and semantic rules of the language Join sentences Ask questions Use appropriate pronouns Negate sentences Form relative clauses

5 Issues in first language acquisition
How do children acquire such a complex system so quickly and effortlessly? Does a child decide to consciously pursue certain skills? (e.g., walking) Do babies make a conscious decision to start learning a language? We correct children’s errors sometimes. Does it help? “Nobody don’t like me”

6 Theories of language acquisition
Nature vs. Nurture Behaviorism (1950s) Children learn language through imitation, reinforcement and analogy - Look at these examples He go out. A my pencil What the boy hit? Nobody don’t like me

7 Theories of language acquisition
Innateness hypothesis Children are equipped with an innate template for language (Language Acquisition Device and Universal Grammar) Evidence: we end up knowing more about language than what we hear around us. The same stages in all cultures and languages

8 Basic requirement Environment and interaction to bring this capacity into operation- E.g. Genie The child must be physically capable(being able to hear) Interaction. All these requirements are related.

9 The acquisition schedule
In spite of different backgrounds, different locations, and different upbringings, most children follow the very same milestones in acquiring language. The biological schedule is related to the maturation of the infant’s brain to cope with the linguistic input Young children acquire the language by identifying the regularities in what is heard and applying those regularities in what they say.

10 Caretaker Speech (motherese)
A type of simplified speech adopts by someone who spends time with the child characterized by: Frequent use of questions Simplified lexicon Phonological reduction Higher pitch- extra loudness Stressed intonation Simple sentences A lot of repetition example: Oh, goody! Now Daddy will push choo choo!

11 Caretaker Speech (motherese)
Assign interactive roles to young children MOTHER: Look! CHILD: (touches picture) MOTHER: what are those? CHILD: (vocalizes a babble string and smiles) MOTHER: yes, there are rabbits CHILD: Vocalizes and smiles MOTHER: (laughs) yes, rabbit

12 L1 acquisition Stage Typical Age Description cooing 3-5 months
Vowel-like sounds babbling 6-10 months Repetitive CV patterns One-word stage 12-18 months Single open-class words or word stems Two-word stage months "mini-sentences" with simple semantic relations Telegraphic stage 24-30 months sentence structures of lexical words no functional or grammatical morphemes Later multiword stage 30+ months Grammatical or functional structures emerge

13 Cooing Few weeks: cooing and gurgling, playing with sounds. Their abilities are constrained by physiological limitations They seem to be discovering phonemes at this point. Producing sequences of vowel-like sounds- high vowels [i] and [u]. 4 months- sounds similar to velar consonants [k] & [g] 5 months: distinguish between [a] and [i] and the syllables [ba] and [ga], so their perception skills are good.

14 Babbling Different vowels and consonants ba-ba-ba and ga-gaga
9-10 months- intonation patterns and combination of ba-ba-ba-da-da Nasal sounds also appear ma-ma-ma 10-11months use of vocalization to express emotions Late stage- complex syllable combination (ma-da-gaba) Even deaf children babble The most common cross-linguistic sounds and patterns babbled the most, but later on they babble less common sounds

15 The word stage (holophrastic)
Single terms are uttered for everyday objects ‘milk’, ‘cookie’, ‘cat’ Produce utterance such as ‘Sara bed’ but not yet capable of producing a phrase. Differ from adult language: [da] dog [sa] sock [aj] light [daw] down Convey a more complex message

16 Two-word stage Vocabulary moves beyond 50 words
By 2 years old, children produce utterances ‘baby chair’, ‘mommy eat’ Interpretation depends on context Adults behave as if communication is taking place.

17 Telegraphic stage By 2 years & a half, they produce multiple-word speech. Developing sentence building capacity. E.g. ‘this shoe all wet’, ‘cat drink milk’, ‘daddy go bye-bye’ Vocabulary continues to grow Better pronunciation

18 The acquisition process
The child does not acquire the language by imitating adults but really they are trying out constructions and testing them. CHILD: my teacher holded the baby rabbit and we patted them MOTHER: did you say your teacher held the baby rabbit? CHILD: yes. she holded the baby rabbit and we patted them MOTHER: Did you say she held them tightly? CHILD: no, she holded them loosely

19 Developing Morphology
By 2-and-a-half years old- use of some inflectional morphemes to indicate the grammatical function of nouns and verbs. The first inflection to appear is –ing after it comes the –s for plural. Overgeneralization: the child applies –s to words like ‘foots’ ‘mans’ and later ‘feets’ and ‘mens’

20 Developing Morphology
The use of possessive ‘s’ appears ‘mommy’s bag’ Forms of verb to be appear ‘is’ and ‘are’ The –ed for past tense appears and it is also overgeneralized as in ‘goed’ or holded’ Finally –s marker for 3rd person singular preset tense appears with full verbs first then with auxiliaries (does-has)

21 Developing syntax A child was asked to say the owl who eats candy runs fast and she said The owl eat candy and he run fast. The development of two syntactic structures- three stages Forming questions Forming negatives

22 Forming questions 1st stage:
Insert where and who to the beginning of an expression with rising intonation E.g. sit chair? Where horse go? 2nd stage: More complex expression E.g. why you smiling? You want eat? 3rd stage: Inversion of subject and verb E.g. will you help me? What did I do?

23 Forming negatives Stage 1: Putting not and no at the beginning
e.g. not teddy bear, no sit here Stage 2: Don’t and can’t appear but still use no and not before VERBS e.g. he no bite you, I don’t want it Stage 3: didn’t and won’t appear e.g. I didn’t caught it, she won’t go

24 Developing Semantics During the two-word stage children use their limited vocabulary to refer to a large number of unrelated objects. Overextension: overextend the meaning of a word on the basis of similarities of shape, sound, and size. e.g. use ball to refer to an apple, and egg, a grape and a ball. This is followed by a gradual process of narrowing

25 Developing Semantics Antonymous relations are acquired late
The distinction between more/less, before/after seem to be later acquired.

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