ABOUT L1 ACQUISITION• Most important milestone in a child‟s development• Children acquire language effortlessly giving the impression that the entire process is simple and straightforward.• Grammar is the end result of L1 Acquisition
PHONOLOGICALDEVELOPMENTA few facts:• Children are born with a perceptual system that is specifically designed for speech.• Children respond differently to human voices than other sounds.• Children show preference for the language of their parents than any other language by the time they are two days old.• Children can recognize their mother‟s voice within a matter of weeks.
PHONOLOGICALDEVELOPMENT:BABBLING• Around 6 months of age: the opportunity for infants to experiment and gain control over their vocal apparatus.• Children who - for medical reasons- are unable to babble, can subsequently acquire normal pronunciation, but their speech development is significantly delayed.• Children from different languages exhibit significant similarities in their babbling.
GENERAL TENDANCIESIN SOUND ACQUISITION• Vowels are generally acquired before consonants (as a group – 3 yrs. old)• Stops (p, t, k, n, d, g, m, n) tend to be acquired before other consonants.• Labials are often acquired first followed by alveolars, velars and alveopalatals.• Interdentals (ð, θ) are acquired last.• Children produce phonemic contrasts of their language well before they can produce them (comprehension tasks).
VOCABULARYDEVELOPMENT• 18 mts. Vocabulary: 50 words (nouns are the single largest class in a child‟s early vocabulary).• Verbs and adjectives are next.• 6 yr. olds: thirteen or fourteen thousand words.
STRATEGIES FORACQUIRING MEANING• The Whole Object Assumption • A new word refers to the whole subject.• The Type Assumption • A new word refers to a type of thing, not just a particular thing.• The Basic Level Assumption • A new word refers to objects that are alike in basic ways (appearance, behaviour etc.)
MORPHOLOGICALDEVELOPMENT• Initially: affixes are systematically absent and most words consist of single root morphemes.OVERGENERALIZATION & OVERREGULATION• Plural –s• Past –ed
DEVELOPMENTALSEQUENCEBOUND MORPHEMES AND FUNCTIONAL CATEGORIES1. -ing2. - s (plurals)3. -s (possessive)4. The, a (determiners)5. -ed past tense6. -s (third person singular)7. Auxiliary „be‟
SYNTACTICDEVELOPMENT• Takes place in an orderly manner.1. one-word stage2. two-word stage3. telegraphic stage4. later development
THE INTERPRETATIONOF SENTENCESTRUCTUREPASSIVES• Children have an easier time interpreting active sentences than they do passive ones (although they produce passives from around age 3)WHY?• Canonical Sentence Strategy • Children expect the first NP to be the agent and the second NP to be the theme. (NP … V … NP agent-action- theme)
THE INTERPRETATIONOF SENTENCESTRUCTUREPRONOMINAL AND REFLEXIVES• Children do not have a lot of trouble distinguishing between pronominal and reflexive pronouns.I hurt myself with the stapler.*You hurt myself with the stapler.*I hurt me with the stapler.You hurt me with the stapler.
WHAT MAKES LANGUAGEACQUISITION POSSIBLE?• The role of adult speech • Childcare talk (motherease)• The role of feedback• Recasts
THE ROLE OF COGNITIVEDEVELOPMENT• Considerable evidence against language acquisition as dependent on other types of cognitive development. • Example: • Individuals with deficient general cognitive development with highly developed language skills. • People with average IQ with difficulties with inflection for the past tense and plural.
THE ROLE OF INBORNKNOWLEDGE• Nativism: certain grammatical knowledge is inborn• Universal Grammar: children are born with prior knowledge of the type of categories, operations and principles that are found in the grammar of any human language.• Chomsky: grammars for human languages are too complex and abstract to be learned solely from experience children are exposed to.
UNIVERSALPRINCIPLESPRINCIPLE A• A reflexive pronoun must have an antecedent that C- commands it in the same IP.PRINCIPLE B• A pronominal must not have an antecedent that C- commands it in the same IP.
PARAMETERS• Not every feature in the grammar of a language can be inborn: vocabulary, morphology and some parts of syntax are learned.• UG stipulates that an X constituent can include a head and its complements, but it does not specify the order of these elements.
THE CRITICAL PERIOD• Is there a critical period?Some examples:• Genie (see video)• Victor• Deaf children
HOW DO WE STUDY L1ACQUISITION? 1. Naturalistic observation 1. Experimentation
NTURALISTICOBSERVATION• Observe and record children‟s spontaneous speech – Diary Study.• Usually longitudinal.• CHILDES (Child Language Data Exchange System)
PROS & CONS OFNATURALISTICOBSERVATION• Provides important information of how the language acquisition process unfolds.• Makes it hard to test hypothesis and draw firm conclusions (particular structures and phenomena may occur rarely in children‟s everyday speech).
EXPERIMENTALSTUDIES• Specifically designed tasks to elicit linguistic activity relevant to the phenomenon that is being investigated.• Typically cross-sectional: investigates and compares the linguistic knowledge of different children at a particular point in development.• What do they test? • Comprehension • Production • Imitation skills
TESTINGCOMPREHENSION• Children judge the truth of statements being made about particular pictures or situations presented about the experimenter.• Supply children with a set of toys and ask them to act out a sentence (passives: the truck was hit by the car)
TESTINGPRODUCTION• the experimenter presents the child with a situation that calls for a particular type of statement or question.
IMITATION TASKS• Children‟s ability to repeat a particular structure provides a good indication of how well they have mastered it.For example:A child that has not acquired auxiliary verbs will repeat asentence such as “Mickey is laughing” by saying: “Mickeylaughing”