Child Language Acquisition

  • Created by: mooearm19
  • Created on: 17-05-18 11:51

Spoken Acquisition Theorists


  • Behaviourism
  • Nuture not nature
  • Beliveved behaviour is a result of the conditioning we have expereinced.
  • +ve and -ve reinforcement - either positive feedback given to a child to encourage similar behaviour, or the lack of feedback/correction which might prevent the child making the same mistake repeatedly.
  • Operant conditioning


  • Nativist
  • Language Acquisition Device (LAD) 
  • Humans ave a naturally programmed ability to learn language
  • Virtuous errors
  • Doesn't give enough credit ot caregivers
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Spoken Acquisition Theorists


  • Social Interactionism
  • Language Acquisition Support System (LASS)
  • Focused on the caregivers interaction with the child
  • Emphasis on social interactions and quality input
  • Scaffolding


  • Cognitivism
  • Cognitive Development
  • 'Stages of Development' - Sensorimotor/Pre-Operational/Concrete Operational/Formal Operational
  • Children won't develop until certain cognitive stages have been completed and they start to question the world around them
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Spoken Acquisition Theorists


  • Social Interactionism and Cognitivism
  • More Knowlegeable Other (MKO) - someone who offers support to the child so they can further develop their learning
  • Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) - the area between what a child can do and what is beyound their reach. MKO might be able to offer support to reach this stage through scaffolding.


  • Rejected Chomsky's LAD and suggested language is mainly social and relies on using the same kinds of cognitive processes as other learning e.g. walking
  • Usage-based lingusitics 
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Spoken Acquisition Theorists


  • The Wug Test
  • Tests the notion that children have a more sophisticated understandign of linguistic morphology than they are explicitly taught


Identified 7 functions of langauge:

  • Instrumental - Expressing a need
  • Regulatory - Influencing someone else
  • Interactional - Developing social relations
  • Personal - Expressing preferences/opinions
  • Representational - Expressing facts
  • Heuristic - Exploring the environment
  • Imaginative - Playing and story-telling
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Spoken Acquisition key terms

Expansion - where a caregiver develops a child's utterance to make it more grammatically complete

Recast- where a caregiver relays the grammatcially incorrect utterance back to the child correctly

Mitigated Imperatives - not a command but a more gentle suggestion

Initiation, Response, Feedback (IRF) - a way of analysing educational dicourse

Over Extension - when a child applies a term more broadly than the specific term to which is actually applies

Under Extension - when a child uses a term more narrowly to describe something without recognising the wider use of the word

Bound morphemes - units of meaning that depend on other morphemes to make sense eg. -est

Free morphemes - units of meaning that don't depend on other morphemes to make sense e.g. light

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Spoken Language key terms

Child Directed Speech (CDS) - 'baby talk' applies to HRT, recast, repetition, questions, etc

Grice's Maxims - Quantity/Quality/Manner/Relevance

Politeness Features - Positive and negative support the imitation theory (Skinner)

Play - important as children develop their social skills through exploration and interaction, pretend play helps to develop imaginative focus and vocab growth

Children work in ways that adults don't 

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Stages of Language Acquisition

1. Pre-Verbal 

Crying, cooing, both Reduplicated and Variagated babbling

2. Holophrastic 

Child conveys a whole sentence worth of meaning in a single word

Large proportion of first words are concrete nouns

3. Two-Word Stage

More refined as meaning is narrowed as more rapid acquisiton - 2/3 words a day

'Vocabulary spurt'/'Naming Explosion'

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Stages of Language Acquisition

4. Telegraphic 

Convey the main message within the minimum words (content words)

Grammatical words only used to convey structual accuracy but not meaning

5. Post-Telegraphic Stage

Grammatical and content words applied

By age 2, usually using negatives

By age 4, generally speaking in largely complete and accurate sentences

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Reading and Writing Theorists

Krolls' List

1. Preparatory - fine motor skills, basic spelling principles

2. Consolidation - writing as they speak, short, declarative sentences

3. Differentiation - differentate between speech and writing, guides provided but genres known

4. Integration - personal style developed

Gentry's List

1. Pre-Communicative - random letters and symbols

2. Semi-Phonetic - letters used to represent words, directionality understood

3. Phonetic - Spelling phonetically

4. Transitional - Spelling combines phonetic and visual approaches, silent letters acknowleged

5. Conventional - Difficult spellings learnt 

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Reading and Writing key terms

Formative and sumative - what steps to take next and a summary of how well you have taken advice

Context of writing

Script - print/cursive/casual cursive

Look and say approach - encourages readers to identify familiar words as a whole to read them

Phonetics approach (Synthetic - sounds seperately and Analytic - onset and rime) - encourages readers to break down words into indiviudual graphemes and then sound them out to say the whole word accurately

Phonetic spelling - words spelt as they sound

Tripod Grip

Directionality and rises and falls

Gross and Fine motor skills

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Reading and Writing key terms

Emergent Writing - making signs on the page to represent particular word/concept. Child has grasped the idea of writing but can't do it yet

Over generalisation - regular spelling rules applied, even when not accurate e.g. 'runned'

Under generalisation - regluar spelling rules not applied e.g 'y' to 'ies' in plurals

Omission - letters missed out of words

Insertion - letters added into words

Transposition - pair of letters are switched around

Substitution - the right letter is replaced with an alternative

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Writing Models






Deconstruction > Joint construction > Independant construction


Expressive - ties in with Piaget's notion of children being egocentric

Poetic - imagery and phonology

Transactional - children seperate themselves from their writing

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