Child Language Acquisition

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  • Created on: 11-04-13 11:26
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The Pre-Verbal Stages: Vocal Development in the First Year of Life
Biological Noises (0-8 weeks): Vomiting, coughing, burping, crying, a low cooing sound, etc. These
are common to the whole human race, there are no Icelandic burps or Thai cries.
Cooing and Laughing (8-20 weeks): Produced when the baby is in a settled state. These are short
vowel-like sounds. "Quieter, lower-pitched and more musical than biological noises" (Crystal 1986).
Some consonant-like sounds come from the back of the throat. The baby is beginning to develop
control over the vocal muscles.
Vocal Play (20-30 weeks): A controlled single vowel-like or consonant-like sound. More varied than
babbling but much less controlled.
Babbling (25-50 weeks): The baby produces phonemes, often in the form of combinations of
vowels and consonants (e.g. ma, ga, baba, gaga). These sounds are largely those that appear in the
child's native language.
Melodic Utterance (9-18 months): Melody, rhythm and intonation develop. Parents assume that
these sounds have different functions: questioning, exclaiming, greeting, etc. Babies of different
nationalities sound increasingly different from each other.
`Child Language, Learning and Linguistics' (1976) ­ David Crystal, Suggests that children are able to
utter phonemes in the following order:
By 2 p, b, m, n, w
2½ t, d, k, g, h, (in sing)
3 f, s, l, y (you)
4 `sh', v, z, r, `ch', `j' (juice)
5 `th' (think) `th' (this)
Phonological Development
The way in which sounds are acquired varies from child to child. Children will often try to make words
easier to say:
Deletion: A child simply leaves out a sound if they find that phoneme difficult to utter e.g. "ext"
instead of "next"
Substitution: A child substitutes a hard sound with an easier one e.g. "dis" instead of "this"
Addition of a Spurious Consonant: A child makes a word fit the regular
consonant-vowel-consonant structure of English by adding a consonant e.g. "hold" instead of "old"
Addition of a Spurious Vowel: A child makes a consonant cluster easier by inserting a vowel e.g.
"belue" instead of "blue"
Contamination/Re-Duplication: A child simplifies the annunciation of a word by re-using a
phoneme e.g. "toat" instead of "coat"
Semantic Errors
Very often children can over use a lexical item. This is called semantic overextension. Three types:

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Categorical: A child uses a word to cover a whole category of things e.g. using `dog' for all animals.
Analogical: A child uses a word to cover a group of things that share something in common such as
the shape or texture e.g. using the word `cat' for a woolly scarf or a soft hair brush.
Statement: A child uses a word to mean a whole sentence or statement e.g.…read more

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Recurrence "more ball" Finds a second ball
Negation "no ball" Has lost the ball
Atchinson's "Pre-Ordained Programme"
In her book, The Articulate Mammal (1998), she publishes a table which suggest the average ages at
which most children reach a certain milestone in their acquisition of language.…read more

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Exaggerated intonation
Simpler constructions
Frequent imperatives
Frequent interrogatives
Use of personal names rather than pronouns (`mummy' not `I')
Simpler more restricted vocabulary
Diminutive forms like `doggie' and `moo-cow'
Concrete language referring to objects in the child's immediate environment
The thinking is that speaking slowly and using simple vocabulary makes language more accessible for
a child. The use of high pitch engages a child's attention and exaggerated facial expressions will
encourage children to look at the shapes the mouth makes when uttering words.…read more

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Children are already programmed in some way to learn language
Chomsky believes we have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) which gives us the ability to
put together sentences that have never been created before
Humans are wired for language ­ it's not just copied
Children make virtuous errors ­ they are manipulating the rules of grammar in a way that
makes sense in order to come up with new constructions that they will not have heard their
caregivers utter
Children don't merely imitate, but use…read more

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Helps a child come to terms with and learn about its surroundings:
Heuristic: "what's that?" a child uses language to learn new things
Imaginative: "I'm a lion" a child uses language to create an imaginary environment and to play
John Dore's "Infant Language Functions"
Some find Halliday's system of classification complex and prefer Dore's system:
Labelling: Naming or identifying a person, object or experience
Repeating: Echoing something spoken by an adult speaker
Answering: Giving a direct response to an utterance from another speaker
Requesting:…read more

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Forming the Negative: A Summary
Stage 1 (2-3 words):
Child employs a simple rule: use NO or NOT and attach it to the beginning or the end of a
sentence e.g. "no wipe finger"
No modal auxiliaries
Main verb `to be' is absent
Stage 2 (3-4 words):
Most of the time, the negative marker appears inside the sentence
Negative marker is in the right place but auxiliary/main verb `to be' is absent e.g.…read more

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Increasingly able to name letters
Pretending/playing at reading
Stage 1: Initial Reading and Decoding (6-7):
Begin to learn the relationship between sounds and letters
Able to read simple texts comprising short, high-frequency words
Stage 2: Confirmation and Fluency (7-8):
Understand multiple points of view
Consolidate their decoding skills
Far too broad
Doesn't reflect modern teaching
Children can normally read before these ages
Importance of Context in Learning to Write
It is generally believed that children produce a better quality of writing when not constrained…read more

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Use specific nouns like `poodle' instead of `dog'
Write in compound sentences
Begin to use commas and exclamation marks
Begin to use paragraphs
"Children have had experience with letters and print for several years now and beginning to use
letters in their own writing. Usually children start by experimenting with the letters in their own
names, as these are the most familiar to them.…read more

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In children's mistakes you will find a wealth of precision and creativity…read more


Alex Judge

extremely useful and detailed, everything for CLA in here

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