How language is learned

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How language is learned

  1. 1. Learning about Language
  2. 2. Purpose of this Powerpoint <ul><li>to become more aware of theory and research related to language and literacy processes; </li></ul><ul><li>to think about language as a window to the mind. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Learning about language <ul><li>Language is the primary medium through which teachers and children work. </li></ul><ul><li>Because teachers teach and children learn through language, it is important. ( Lee, D. and Rubin, J. Children and Language , 1979.) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Language and human beings <ul><li>One of the extraordinary features of the human brain is it ability to acquire language. </li></ul><ul><li>Language is a human- personal- social invention. Individuals in social groups invent and develop language because they are capable of symbolic thought; that is, they can let symbols represent experiences and ideas which they can reflect on. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Uniformity of language development sequence <ul><li>Worldwide babies </li></ul><ul><li>learn to speak at about the same time </li></ul><ul><li>go through about the same stages </li></ul><ul><li>babble -> one word-> two words-> sentence </li></ul>
  6. 6. Consistent development across children and across languages <ul><li>If language were the result of the environment acting on the child </li></ul><ul><li>And recognizing that the learning environment varies </li></ul><ul><li>How can one account for the uniformity of language development sequence in children? </li></ul><ul><li>(Lindfors, 1987) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Humans are uniquely adept at language acquisition <ul><li>Children don’t always imitate adults </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Me go vacation too.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children over generalize rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I goed yesterday.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They learn language with minimal input and little correction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contrast to learning to tie shoes, ride a bicycle or water ski. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Explaining development <ul><li>Beyond the two-word stage, language growth is incredibly rapid and complex. </li></ul><ul><li>Between the late twos and the mid threes, children’s language development blooms into fluent grammatical conversation so rapidly that it overwhelms the researchers who study it, and no one has worked out the exact sequence. (Pinker, 1994) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Knowledge about language <ul><li>Humans are born with the basic structure of all human languages already present in the brain. Children are not born with the knowledge of Japanese or English or any other human language. Instead they are born with knowledge of those things that are common to all human languages. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Consideration of Theory and Language Development
  11. 11. Lev Vygotsky <ul><li>The structure of the language one habitually uses influences the way one perceives the environment . </li></ul>Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896 - 1934) Lev Vygotsky http://www.sk.com.br/sk-vygot.html
  12. 12. Jean Piaget <ul><li>“ In the course of the first two years of childhood, the evolution of sensorimotor intelligence and also the correlative elaboration of the universe seem, as we have tried to analyze them, to lead to a state of equilibrium bordering on rational thought.” </li></ul><ul><li>Jean Piaget </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.sk.com.br/sk-piage.html </li></ul>Jean Piaget
  13. 13. Maria Montessori <ul><li>... we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher's task is not to talk but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child. (Maria Montessori 1870 - 1952) </li></ul>http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-mont.htm Maria Montessori
  14. 14. Noam Chomsky <ul><li>When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the &quot;human essence,&quot; the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man. Noam Chomsky </li></ul>Noam Chomsky Linguistics Professor at MIT http://www.sk.com.br/sk-chom.html http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/www/chomsky.home.htm l
  15. 15. Quote about Chomsky <ul><li>I still remember the excitement I felt when I first read Chomsky’s claim that ‘Language is a window on the mind’… Heady stuff for someone interested in the education of children . </li></ul><ul><li>(Gordon Wells, 1986) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Jerome Bruner http://www.infed.org/thinkers/bruner.htm Language is a tool that creates reality. We do not acquire language for its own sake but for the sake of doing something with and to somebody else . Jerome Bruner Jerome Bruner Research Professor of Psychology Senior Research Fellow in Law New York University 90 years old
  17. 17. Stephen Krashen <ul><li>&quot;Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules and does not require tedious drill.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language—natural communication—in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Stephen Krashen </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash.html </li></ul>Stephen Krashen
  18. 18. When and how language is learned <ul><li>Almost all children learn the rules of their language at an early age through use, and over time, without formal instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, one source for learning must be genetic. Human beings are born to speak; they have an innate gift for figuring out the rules of the language used in their environment. </li></ul><ul><li>The environment itself is also a significant factor. Children learn the specific variety of language (dialect) that the important people around them speak. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Language to share experiences <ul><li>Humans created language so that they could share their experience with one another and exert greater control over their environment. Language is the major means by which we make contact with other human beings. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Language and social need <ul><li>Humans depend on each other for survival and remain interdependent throughout their lives. Our ancestors invented language because they needed to communicate with each other. It is the combination of symbolic ability and social need that make language universal across human societies. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Children seem born not just to speak but also to interact socially. Even before they use words, they use cries and gestures to convey meaning; they often understand the meanings that others convey. </li></ul><ul><li>The point of learning language and interacting socially, then, is not to master rules, but to make connections with other people and to make sense of experiences (Wells, 1986). </li></ul>Language and social need
  22. 22. Language and cognition <ul><li>Our ancestors invented language because they needed it not only for communicating but also for thinking and learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Language helps us to better structure and refine our experiences and understanding, while language exists for our social needs, language also serves as a means of reflecting and of acting (Lee, 1986). </li></ul><ul><li>Once language is learned, people may then use it reflectively or internally as they think (Smith, 1990). </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Children do not, however, learn only by imitating those around them. </li></ul><ul><li>We know that children work through linguistic rules on their own because they use forms that adults never use, such as &quot; I goed there before &quot; or &quot; I see your feets .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Children eventually learn the conventional forms, went and feet as they sort out for themselves the exceptions to the rules of English syntax. </li></ul><ul><li>As with learning to walk, learning to talk requires time for development and practice in everyday situations. Constant correction of a child's speech is usually unproductive . </li></ul>Innate capacity
  24. 24. Innate capacity <ul><li>We are born with an innate capacity to distinguish the distinct sounds of all the estimated 6,500 languages that exist on the planet today (Sousa, 2005.) Human beings have developed an elaborate and complex means of spoken communication that may be largely responsible for our place as the dominate species. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>When children develop abilities is always a difficult question to answer. </li></ul><ul><li>In general, children say their first words between 12 and 18 months of age. </li></ul><ul><li>They begin to use complex sentences by the age of 4 to 4 1/2 years. </li></ul><ul><li>By the time they start kindergarten, children know most of the fundamentals of their language so that they are able to converse easily with someone who speaks as they do; that is, in their dialect. </li></ul><ul><li>As with other aspects of development, language acquisition is not predictable. One child may say her first word at 10 months, another at 20 months. One child may use complex sentences at 5 1/2 years, another at 3 years. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Oral Language Components <ul><li>Oral language, the complex system that relates sounds to meanings, is made up of three components: the phonological, semantic, and syntactic (Lindfors, 1987). </li></ul><ul><li>The phonological component involves the rules for combining sounds. Speakers of English, for example, know that an English word can end, but not begin, with an -ing sound. </li></ul><ul><li>We are not aware of our knowledge of these rules, but our ability to understand and pronounce English words demonstrates that we do know a vast number of rules. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>The semantic component is made up of morphemes, the smallest units of meaning that may be combined with each other to make up words (for example, paper +s are the two morphemes that make up papers), and sentences (Brown, 1973). </li></ul><ul><li>A dictionary contains the semantic component of a language, but also contains the words (and meanings) that are important to the speakers of the language. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>The syntactic component consists of the rules that enable us to combine morphemes into sentences. As soon as a child uses two morphemes together, as in &quot;more cracker,&quot; she is using a syntactic rule about how morphemes are combined to convey meaning. Like the rules making up the other components, syntactic rules become increasingly complex as the child develops. From combining two morphemes, the child goes on to combine words with suffixes or inflections (-s or -ing, as in papers and eating) and eventually creates questions, statements, commands, etc. She also learns to combine two ideas into one complex sentence, as in &quot;I'll share my crackers if you share your juice.&quot; </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Of course, speakers of a language constantly use these three components of language together, usually in social situations. Some language experts would add a fourth component : pragmatics , which deals with rules of language use. Pragmatic rules are part of our communicative competence, our ability to speak appropriately in different situations. Learning pragmatic rules is as important as learning the rules of the other components of language, since people are perceived and judged based on both what they say and when they say it. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Language and cognition <ul><li>With language we label and categorize our world. We share those understandings with each other. The world is complex, we use language to understand, to negotiate, to protect ourselves, to keep from being alone and to get what we want. It may promote love or cause wars. (Bertrand and Stice, 2002) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Nurturing language development <ul><li>Parents and caregivers need to remember that language in the great majority of individuals develops very efficiently. </li></ul><ul><li>Adults should try not to focus on &quot;problems,&quot; such as the inability to pronounce words as adults do (for example, when children pronounce r's like w's). Most children naturally outgrow such things, which are a tiny segment of the child's total repertoire of language. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Teachers can help sustain natural language development by providing environments full of language development opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers need to understand that every child's language or dialect is worthy of respect as a valid system for communication. It reflects the identities, values, and experiences of the child's family and community. </li></ul>Nurturing language development
  33. 33. <ul><li>Treat children as if they are conversationalists, even if they are not yet talking. Children learn very early about how conversations work - taking turns, looking attentively, using facial expressions with conversing adults. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage interaction among children. Peer learning is an important part of language development, especially in mixed-age groups. Activities involving a wide range of materials should promote talk. There should be a balance between individual activities and those that nurture collaboration and discussion, such as dramatic play, block-building, book-sharing, or carpentry. </li></ul>Nurturing language development
  34. 34. <ul><li>Remember that parents, caregivers, teachers, and guardians are the chief resources in language development. Children learn much from each other, but adults are the main conversationalists, questioners, listeners, responders, and sustainers of language development. </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to encourage interaction as children come to understand written language. Children in the primary grades can keep developing oral abilities and skills by consulting with each other, raising questions, and providing information in varied situations. Every area of the curriculum is enhanced through language so that classrooms full of active learners are hardly ever silent . </li></ul>Nurturing language development
  35. 35. References <ul><li>Lee, D. (1986). Language , Children and Society . NYU Press. New York </li></ul><ul><li>Lee, D. and Rubin, J.(1979). Children and Language . Wadsworth Publishing Company. Belmont, CA. </li></ul><ul><li>Smith, F. (1990). To Think . Teachers College Press, New York. </li></ul><ul><li>Sousa, D. (2005). How the Brain Learns to Read . Corwin Press. Thousand Oaks. CA </li></ul><ul><li>Wells, G. (1986). The Meaning Makers: Children learning language and using language to learn. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH </li></ul><ul><li>Bruner, J. (1984). In Search of Mind: Essays in Autobiography. Harper and Row, New York </li></ul>
  36. 36. Questions to guide your response <ul><li>Do you think primary schools that you are familiar with teach language development? In what ways? </li></ul><ul><li>How do parents and teachers support language development? That is, what activities or teaching strategies promote language development? </li></ul><ul><li>From your reading of the text and other resources what can you add to this discussion? </li></ul>

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