First Language Acquisition

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First Language Acquisition

  1. 1. First Language Acquisition Sources: Brown Lightbown & Spada NAM/nam
  2. 2. Theories of L1 Acquisition <ul><li>Behaviorism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Say what I say” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Innatism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“It’s all in your mind” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interactionism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“A little help from my friends” </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Behaviorism <ul><li>Skinner (1957). </li></ul><ul><li>People’s behaviors are directly observable, rather than the mental systems underlying these behaviors. Children are born with a mind that is like a blank state. </li></ul><ul><li>Language -> verbal behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Children learn language through: I _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Tabula rasa </li></ul><ul><li>Stimulus  Response </li></ul><ul><li>Conditioning </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Observation : </li></ul><ul><li>Is this enough to explain how human beings learn a language? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Innatism <ul><li>Criticism on Behaviorism for LA </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty of the stimulus -> we end up knowing far more about language than is exemplified in the language we hear around us. </li></ul><ul><li>Problems with Input -> Slips of the tongue, false starts, ungrammatical and incomplete sentences, the data children are exposed to is impoverished </li></ul><ul><li>LA is a creative process . Children are not given explicit information about the rules: </li></ul><ul><li>No instruction or correction. </li></ul><ul><li>Children are equipped with an innate template or blueprint for language -> Universal Grammar (UG) . </li></ul><ul><li>Children go through similar universal LA stages regardless of cultural and social circumstances. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Children construct rules which are structure dependent -> children do create phrase structures, and the rules they acquire are sensitive to this structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Example : What accounts for the difference between “and” and “with” in: </li></ul><ul><li>Jill ate bagels and cream </li></ul><ul><li>Jack went up the hill with Jill. </li></ul><ul><li>and their corresponding possible wh. Questions: </li></ul><ul><li>What did Jill eat bagels with _________________? </li></ul><ul><li>Who did Jack go up the hill with______________? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Bagels and cream -> coordinate NP (2 NP conjoined with and ) Bagels with cream -> NP composed of an NP followed by a PP (NP + PP) Children never violate a coordinate structure constraint like: *Who did Jack and ________ go up the hill? *What did Jill eat bagels and ___________?
  7. 7. <ul><li>The innateness hypothesis : </li></ul><ul><li>An answer to the logical problem of language acquisition : </li></ul><ul><li>What accounts for the easy, rapidity and uniformity of language acquisition in the face of impoverished data? </li></ul><ul><li>Children acquire a complex grammar quickly and easily without any particular help beyond exposure to the language, they do not start from scratch. </li></ul><ul><li>The child constructs his grammar according to an innate blueprint (UG) </li></ul><ul><li>All children proceed through similar development stages. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Characteristics <ul><li>Universal Grammar (+UG)) </li></ul><ul><li>Principles intact (UG) </li></ul><ul><li>Parameters (For specific language) yet unset </li></ul><ul><li>Acquisition based on data input </li></ul><ul><li>Learning procedure (LAD) </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis testing </li></ul><ul><li>Parameter setting </li></ul>
  9. 9. Markedness differential Hypothesis <ul><li>Linguistic rules can be either part of the : </li></ul><ul><li>“ Core Grammar” (UG) </li></ul><ul><li>.- Follow general principles of language </li></ul><ul><li>.- Considered to be less complex </li></ul><ul><li>.- Unmarked </li></ul><ul><li>“ Periphery” </li></ul><ul><li>.- Specific to each language </li></ul><ul><li>.- Considered to be more complex </li></ul><ul><li>.- Marked </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Language Acquisition Device (LAD) </li></ul><ul><li>Universal Grammar (UG) </li></ul><ul><li>Systematic; rule-governed acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>Creative construction </li></ul><ul><li>“Pivot” grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Period Hypothesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Victor” and “Genie” </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Interactionists <ul><li>PIAGET (1969): </li></ul><ul><li>Language is not based on a separate ‘module of the mind’. </li></ul><ul><li>it can be explained in terms of learning in general: </li></ul><ul><li>“ language acquisition is similar to the acquisition of other skills or knowledge” </li></ul><ul><li>Language is a number of symbol systems which are developed in childhood. Language serves children to represent the knowledge acquired through physical interaction with the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Social interaction and environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive development and use of the language. </li></ul><ul><li>Functions of language through interaction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Child-directed speech: Jim’s case </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>VYGOTSKY (1978): </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of conversations which children have with adults and with other children </li></ul><ul><li>These conversations constitute the origins of both language and thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Thought is essentially internalized speech, and speech emerges in social interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>More recently, constructivists have focused their research on the social meaning of language. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Function are the meaningful, interactive purposes, within a social (pragmatic) context, that we accomplish with forms.” (Brown 2000: 28). </li></ul><ul><li>They criticized the innatists’ generative rules as being abstract, formal, explicit and only concerned with the forms of language, ignoring the functions of meaning within social interaction (pragmatics). </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>BLOOM (1971): </li></ul><ul><li>Criticized innatists’ pivot grammars: the relationship between a pivot word and an open word was not always of the same nature. </li></ul><ul><li>In the utterance: “Mommy sock”, she found, at least, three relations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>agent-action (Mommy is putting the sock on) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>agent-object (Mommy sees the sock) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>possessor-possessed (Mommy’s sock). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bloom’s conclusion: Children learn underlying structures, and not superficial word order. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Issues in L1 Acquisition: <ul><li>Universals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Principles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parameters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Language and thought </li></ul><ul><li>Imitation </li></ul><ul><li>Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Input/discourse </li></ul>
  15. 15. That's it!
  16. 16. <ul><li>Pivot grammar n </li></ul><ul><li>Now-discarded theory of grammatical development in L1A. Children were said to develop two major grammatical classes of words: </li></ul><ul><li>1.- pivot class: small group of words attached to other words, e.g. on, allgone, more </li></ul><ul><li>2.- “open class” (e.g. shoe, milk) to which pivot words were attached. </li></ul><ul><li>The child’s early grammar was thought to be a set of rules which determined how the two classes of words could be combined to produce utterances such as allgonemilk, shoe on. </li></ul><ul><li>Longman Dictionary of Linguistics, Applied Linguistics and ELT . </li></ul>

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