Theories of child development

Range of theories for child's acquisition. Highlighted useful ones

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  • Theories
    • Language development in the womb
      • Fitzpatrick (2002)
        • Unborn babies recognise mothers voice - heart rate slows down
    • Imitation
      • Skinner (1957)
        • Language is acquired through imitation and reinforcement
          • Problems: children can construct sentences they've never heard before. Imitation can't explain over-generalisation of 'fis' phenomenon
    • Babbling - preliminary speech
      • Petitto and Holowka (2002)
        • videoed infants and noted that most babbling cam from right side of mouth which is controlled by left side of brain. Left side is responsible for speech production = suggested that babbling is a form of preliminary speech
    • Fis phenomenon
      • Berko and Brown (1960)
        • suggests that children can recognise and understand a wider range of phonemes than they can produce
      • a child referred to his plastic fish as 'fis', when adult asked 'is this your fis?' the child said 'no, this is my fis' when adult asked 'is this your fish?' the child said 'yes, my fis'
    • Internalisation
      • Berko's (1958) Wug Test
        • children use grammatical rules without being taught them - children had heard the rule so often it was second nature to apply it
        • children were shown a picture of a creature and told it was a wug when shown a picture of two of the creatures, 3-4 year olds knew to say two wugs


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