First Language Acquisition

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FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION ?v=z3CFWEbcPjA h?v=sDocL7AfIRo tory_fbid=1982135556085&id=132408956 5#!/raquel.roldan

DEFINITIONS1) First language (L1): 2) Second language (L2): 3) Foreign language (FL) 4) Target language (TL)

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN:Their language development shows a high degree of similarity among children all over the world. PREDICTABILITY LEARNING THROUGH IMITATION CREATIVITY

Before First Words The earliest vocalizationsInvoluntary crying Cooing and gurgling showing satisfaction or happiness

BabblingBabies use sounds to reflect the characteristics of the different language they are learning.

First WordsAround 12 months ( one-word stage):one or two recognizable words (esp. content word); Single-word sentences.

By the age of 2 ( two-word stage):1) at least 50 different words 2) telegraphic sentences (no function words and grammatical morphemes) e.g., Mommy juice , baby fall down 3) reflecting the order of the language. e.g., kiss baby , baby kiss 4) creatively combining words. e.g., more outside , all gone cookie

By the age of 4Most children are able to: ask questions, give commands, report real events, create stories about imaginary ones with correct word order and grammatical markers most of the time.

basic structures of the language less frequent and more complex linguistic structures. use of the language in a widening social environment.

Development of Metalinguistic Awareness Development of Vocabulary

THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO L1 ACQUISITION1) Behaviorism: Say what I say 2) Innatism: It s all in your mind 3) Interactionist/Developmental perspectives: Learning from inside and out

1) BEHAVIORISM: SAY WHAT I SAYSkinner: language behavior is the production of correct responses to stimuli through reinforcement.

Language learning is the result of:imitation (word-for-word repetition), practice (repetitive manipulation of form), feedback on success (positive reinforcement) habit formation.

The quality and quantity of the language that the child hears, as well as the consistency of the reinforcement offered by others in the environment, would shape the childs language behavior.

Childrens imitations are not random Their imitation is selective and based on what they are currently learning.

Childrens practice of new language forms substitution drills. It is selective and reflects what they would like to learn. They pick out patterns/rules and then generalize or overgeneralize them to new contexts.

2) INNATISM: IT S ALL IN YOUR MINDChomsky (1959) argues that behaviorismcannot provide sufficient explanations for children s language acquisition for the following reasons:

Children come to know more about the structure of their language than they could be expected to learn on the basis of the samples of language they hear. The language children are exposed to includes false starts, incomplete sentences and slips of the tongue, and yet they learn to distinguish between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. Children are by no means systematically corrected or instructed on language by parents.

Children are biologically programmed for language

Language develops in the child

In the same way of other biological functions

language acquisition

learning to walk.

LAD: LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE ( or BLACK BOX)It contains all and only the principles which are universal to all human languages (i.e.. Universal Grammar UG).

If children are preequipped with UG.

What they have to learn is

The ways in which their own language make use of those principles

children need access only to samples of a natural language

They discover the structure of the language to be learned

By matching the innate knowledge of basic grammatical principles (UG)

which serve as a trigger to activate the device.

Once the LAD is activated

to the structures of the particular language in the environment.

CONCLUSION Childrens acquisition of grammatical rules is guided by principles of an innate UG which could apply to all languages. Children know certain things of the language just by being exposed to a limited number of samples.

Evidence used to support Chomsky s innatist position:Virtually all children successfully learn their native language at a time in life when they would not be expected to learn anything else so complicated (i.e. biologically programmed).

Language is separate from other aspects of cognitive developments (e.g., creativity and social grace) and may be located in a different module" of the brain.

The language children are exposed to does not contain examples of all the linguistic rules and patterns. Animals cannot learn to manipulate a symbol system as complicated as the natural language of a 3- or 4-year-old child.

Children acquire grammatical rules without getting explicit instruction.

The biological basis for the innatist position:The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) Lenneberg:

There is a specific and limited time period (i.e., critical period ) for the LAD to work successfully. Only when it stimulated at the right time

STRONG Two versions WEAK


Virtually every child learns language on a similar schedule in spite of different environments.Three case studies of abnormal language development - evidence of the CPHVictor a boy of about 12 years old (1799) Genie a girl of 13 years old (1970) Deaf signers (native signers, early learners, vs. late learners) I5wJA lDkn0&feature=related DXs4o&feature=related


Problems of Innatism: Too much emphasis on the final state but not enough on the developmental aspects of language acquisition.

Language was ONE manifestation of the cognitive and affective ability to deal with the world Innatists dealt with FORMS of the language, not with the FUNCTIONAL levels of meaning constructed from SOCIAL INTERACTION

INTERACTIONISM: BrunerLanguage acquisition is an example of childrens ability to learn from experience. What children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to.

the innate learning ability of children


the environment in which they develop


CRUCIAL ELEMENT in language acquisition process

CARETAKER TALK It is the way adults modify their speech when communicating with kids. Slower rate of speech Higher pitch More varied intonation Shorter simpler sentence patterns Frequent repetition Paraphrase

Developmental psychologists attribute more importance to the environment But they recognize a powerful learning mechanism in the human brain.

PIAGETChildren s cognitive development determines their language development.

The interaction between the child

the developing cognitive understandingthings which can be observed, touched, and manipulated


was one of a number of symbol systems developed in childhood, rather than a separate module of the mind.


can be used to represent knowledge

that children have acquired

through physical interaction with the environment.

VYGOTSKYSociocultural theory of human mental processing. He argued that language develops primarily from social interaction.

Zone of proximal development (ZPD): A level that a child is able to do when there is support from interaction with a more advanced interlocutor. A supportive interactive environment enables children to advance to a higher level of knowledge and performance than s/he would be able to do independently.

Vygotsky observed the importance of conversations which children have with adults and with other children and saw in these conversations the origins of both language and thought.