Child Language Acquisition - speech theorists

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Michael Halliday - 7 functions of language

  • instrumental - to express needs; e.g. 'want juice'
  • regulatory - to tell others what to do; e.g. 'go away'
  • interactional - to make contact with others, form relationships; e.g. 'Me good boy'
  • personal -  to express the personal preferences and identity of the speaker; e.g. 'I love you mummy'
  • heuristic - to gain knowledge about the environment; e.g. 'what that tractor doing'
  • imaginative - stories and jokes, creating imaginary environment
  • representational - to convey facts and information
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John Dore - infant language functions

  • labelling - naming, identifying
  • repeating - echoing something said by an adult
  • answering - responding
  • requesting action - demanding food, assistance...
  • calling - shouting to attract attention
  • greeting 
  • protesting
  • practising - trying to talk when no adult is present
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Noam Chomsky - Language Acquisition Device, Univer

  • LAD - Language Acquisition Device. Children are born with the ability to talk (innate), they know linguistic rules
  • Universal Grammar - all languages share the same principles of grammar
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Jerome Bruner - L.A.S.S.

Learning is an active process, everything is context sensitive to each social individual.

L.A.S.S. - language acquisition support system - adult caregivers provide support through:

- gaining the child's attention

- query

- label

- feedback

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B.F. Skinner - behaviourism

Environment has a great impact on speech development. Positive/negative reinforcement - if a child does not respond to correction, according to Skinner they are outside of the development capability. 

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Lev Vygotsky - play/interactionist theory

Cognitive development is driven by social interaction; children's learning is social in nature; they learn from those around them with scaffolding. 

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Jean Piaget - cognitive theory

Development of logical and reasoning skills, eager to learn and explore their environment, child's role is a conversation is more important

- sensorimotor stage - child experiences word through senses, concrete lexis rather than abstract, object permanence develops

- pre-operational stage - language and motor skills developand become more component, egocentric language

- concrete operational stage - children begin to think logically about concrete events 

- formal operational stage - abstract reasoning skills develop

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Eric Lennenberg - critical period

Lennenberg agreed with Chomsky's LAD theory, however, he said that there is a critical period (12-13 years old) in which children have the ability to learn language. 

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Catherine Garvey - sociodramatic play

In sociodramatic play, language used by children is affected by the role they adapt. 

Other types of play: sensori-motor  play, constructions, play with rules.

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Other theorists

  • Katherine Nelson identified four categories for first words: naming, actions, describing, social/personal words. She proved that 60% of child's first words are nouns. 
  • Jean Berko Gleason and Roger Brown said that phonological development depends on the physical concept of producing sounds.
  • Alex Cruttenden found out that only adults acknowledge the impact of intonation on speech.
  • Pinker - language instinct - we have an innate ability and capacity for learning language (language is an instinct)
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Leslie Rescorla

Common for children to overextend word's meaning, as children link objects with similar qualities.

There are 3 types:

- categorical - the name of a member of a category is extended to all members (apple for all fruit)

- analogical - a word for one object is extended to one in another category with the same physical extension (ball for all round fruit)

- mismatch statements - one-word utterances that appear quite abstract ('duck' when looking at an empty pond)

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