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Child Language Acquisition

Skinner (1957) Imitation and Reinforcement
Children acquire language by imitating and repeat what they hear. When they are approved
of or applauded for their success, this reinforces their acquisition of the word(s). The idea is
that a human will repeat if the results are pleasurable…

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Sensorimotor (up to 2 years old) ­ child experiences the physical world through
the senses and begins classifying the things in it; lexical choices, when they appear;
tend to be concrete rather than abstract. Object permanence develops.
Pre-operational (2 ­ 7 years old) ­ language and motor skills develop and…

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John Dore's Language Functions
He offers another way of describing language functions that focuses more on speech acts as
individual utterances rather than Halliday's broader approach to pragmatic functions. He
does not align these to stages. They go across Proto stages to Telegraphic stages. He sees
language as context bound…

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things. Action utterances form the basis for the first verbs and social expressions mark a
growing awareness of cultural expectation. Conversational skills are still limited, with much of
the child's communication takes the form of a monologue as adults do most of the talking.

Two-word Stage (18 ­ 24 Months)…

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Sentence Structures are simplified and Function Words are omitted.
Proper Nouns / Child's Name often used instead of pronouns.
High proportions of nouns are Concrete Nouns.
Present tense used more than the past tense.
Fewer Verbs and Modifiers.
Yes / No questioning.

Key Terms
Deletion ­ omitting the final consonant…

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Stage 3 (3+ Years) ­ children do not use no and not in the way they did in the first 2
stages. They start using other negative contractions like didn't and won't, with the
use of can't and don't becoming standardised.

Children start to add inflections to their words…

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`Look and Say' ­ children learn the shape of words not breaking them down
phonologically. It involves recognising whole words by sight alone rather than
breaking them down into separate phonemes. It focuses on the meanings of words
and teaches children to recognise common words. However, relying on this method…

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Query ­ asking the young person what the object is in the picture.
Label ­ telling the young person what the object in the picture is.
Feedback ­ responding to the young person's utterance.

Writers of children's books build Cues into their texts:
Graphophonic ­ looking at the shape…

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relate to phonemes and other devices to create prosodic effects, social conventions within
certain types of written texts, cohesive structure, layout of texts, variations in language to
suit audience, purpose and context, and orthography.
Stages of Writing Development
Barry Kroll (1981) identified four phases of children's development:

Barclay (1996) outlined…

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Stage 4: Transitional ­ combine phonic knowledge with visual memory; an
awareness of combinations of letters and letter patterns.
Stage 5: Conventional ­ spell most words correctly.

The main types of spelling error made by children:
Insertion ­ adding extra letters
Omission ­ leaving out letters
Substitution ­ substituting one…


Alex Judge


Everything you could need for child language in 10 pages, F*****g Ace

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