Identified 7 functions of children's early language use:
Instrumental- To get something to fulfill a need
Interactional- To relate to others and help maintain and develop relationships
Personal- To convey a sense of identity and to express views and feelings
Heuristic- To find something out about the immediate environment (questioning)
Imaginative- To be creative through language that usually relates to imaginative play, storytelling and humour
Representational- To convey information- facts and information
Top 4 satisfies childs social, emotional and physical needs and bottom 3 help the child to come to terms with their environment and their place within it.
Offers an alternative way to identify language functions:
Labelling- Naming a person or object
Repeating- Repeating an adult word or utterance
Answering- Responding to the utterance of another speaker
Requesting action- Asking for something to be done for them
Calling- Getting attention by shouting
Greeting- Greeting someone
Protesting- Objecting to requests from others
Practising- Using language when no adult is present
3 developmental processes:
Network building- The child begins to make connections between words e.g similarities or differences- big and small, little and small
Labelling- The child is able to call something by it's correct name- they are linking a sound to an object
Packaging- The child recognises that a word might have a range of meaning. For example they might understand that 'box' applies to a range of sizes and shapes but the function is still the same or similar
The 3 stages of learning inflections:
Stage 1- Inconsistent useage- A child uses an inflection correctly some of the time but not consistently, but this means they have learnt the word rather than the grammatical rule e.g 'i watch postman pat yesterday' instead of 'i watched postman pat yesterday'
Stage 2- Consistent useage but sometimes misapplied- A child might use a grammar rule consistently, even when there is an irregular case/ exception to the rule. They might use 'I runned' assuming you always add '-ed' to achieve a past tense
Stage 3- Consistent useage- When a child is able to cope with irregular useage consistently and successfully
Skinner suggested that children learn language through imitation and reinforcement.
Children repeating what they hear
Caregivers rewarding the child's efforts with praise or physical reaction (conditioning)
Reinforcing what the child is saying by repeating back words and phrases and correcting mistakes
However, children can sometimes say new sentences that they have never hear before, so they can't be directly imitating caregivers. The theory also does not explain overgeneralisations and virtuous errors because adults don't tend to make these.
Chomsky argued that children's ability to learn language is innate- learning language isn't taught, but the skills develop naturally when children are exposed to language.
Chomsky coined the term 'virtuous error' to explain incorrect utterances, meaning they are based on an intelligent logic much stronger than the skill merely to parrot what an adult has said. Virtuous errors, for example, might be mistakes with verbs in the past tense or creating noun plurals.
Bruner's features of caregiver language:
Simplified grammar and meaning
Restricted range of sentence patterns
Expansion and repetition of sentences
Large number of questions with rising intonation seeking feedback
Embedding everything in the here and now and not past, future or imaginery
Use of special words e.g diddies for dummy