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Language acquisition (1)


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Language acquisition (1)

  1. 1. Language Acquisition How do we learn the language we know? What is going on when it doesn’t happen as we might expect?
  2. 2. Basic Assumptions • Some normal babies produce no words until they are at least two years old • Babies can learn to speak using the television • Babies of deaf parents say their first word before babies of speaking parents • Language acquisition is innate for so a baby locked in a room for four years with little human contact will still learn to speak 15/10/2013 • Are the following true or false? 2
  3. 3. cont .. • Babies learn baby talk from their parents • Bilingual children are often slow to talk • Babies who can only say two words cannot make themselves clear • It matters how much you talk to your baby • You can speed up children’s language development • At birth any child can learn any language fluently 15/10/2013 • Are the following true or false? 3
  4. 4. • Language is acquired, not ‘learned’. Language is an instinct and not a learned skill like playing the piano or riding a bicycle. 15/10/2013 The Big Three • The main theories which have tried to explain how this happens are: • Imitation theory • Reinforcement theory • Innateness and Active Construction of Grammar theory 4
  5. 5. Imitation theory • Children produce many things not in the adult grammar • Children make consistent, predictable errors that cannot be attributed to mispronunciation and which still are not ever heard in the adult grammar • Children can produce and understand novel sentences 15/10/2013 • We learn language by memorising words and sentences. 5
  6. 6. Reinforcement theory • Parents actually don't seem to correct children's grammar as much as we might think, and they don't praise them for using proper adult grammatical constructions either. 15/10/2013 • It’s just like dog training! 6
  7. 7. • The brain of human beings is genetically predisposed for language. Just as we are made to have two arms and are designed to walk, we are made to talk. 15/10/2013 Innateness theory 7
  8. 8. Disorders | Distinctions • Acquired disorders • Developmental disorders • The acquisition of speech or language ability is impaired 15/10/2013 • Previously learned speech or language ability becomes impaired • Language Deviance • I saw man the on his bike • /hot/ /kot/ • Language Delay • Where language is still immature for the child’s age • A time-lapse has been noticed 8
  9. 9. Disorders | Distinctions • Before we can say what is abnormal we need to reference experience against norms • Normal • • • • • • What norm should the child be compared with? How should the child be speaking? What dialect is the child exposed to? How much language should the child have acquired by her age? What is the child’s gender? (rate of acquisition is faster in girls) What is the social background? (there are differences in expectations parents have about their child’s language which may relate to social class) NB special difficulties with bilinguals, immigrants, physically disabled, and other exceptional groups. 15/10/2013 • Abnormal 9
  10. 10. Specific Language Disorders • • • • • • • There are no deafness or sensory-perceptual deficit No motor disorder No evidence of global learning difficulties No psychiatric difficulty (severe emotional problems) Learning environments are adequate Parenting patterns are not unusual No evidence of gross neurological impairment 15/10/2013 • Developmental Language Disorders: Diagnosis by Exclusion But the child is noticeably behind their chronological peers in their ability to produce and comprehend speech. 10
  11. 11. • These disorders are a result of a more fundamental deficit of a cognitive nature. Evidence: • Problems with auditory perception • Problems in auditory storage capacity (very poor auditory shortterm memory) • Difficulties in processing auditory information quickly • Problems in understanding sequences presented auditorily • Poor rhythmical abilities • Poor awareness of symbolic behaviour (ie what is involved in play or the meanings of a gesture) • High level of distractibility and disorganisation These deficits effect their speech and speech processing abilities Work on the deficit and speech improves 15/10/2013 Hypothesis 1 11
  12. 12. Hypothesis 2 • Phonological (difficulties in learning the sound system of their language) • Grammatical • Morphology and ability to combine linguistic unit to form phrases, clauses and strings of sentences 15/10/2013 • The disorders are a result of a deficit in the linguistic processing system. Difficulties are: • Semantic • Limited vocabulary • Errors in word use • Difficulty finding appropriate words • Pragmatic • Unwilling to engage in conversation • Will talk if talked to • Will engage in conversation but who introduce their own rules (introducing irrelevant topics , echoing, replying to their own questions) • Will carry on a generally normal conversation with ‘odd’ remarks (asking why at the wrong point for e.g.) 12
  13. 13. Both hypotheses are right some of the time 15/10/2013 Conclusion 13