English Language - Child Language Acquisition


Chomsky 1965 - Nativism

Suggested everyone is born with an innate ability to understand rules of language - called the LAD (language acquisition device).

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Berko 1958 - WUG TEST

Children were shown a picture of a fictional creature and told it was a 'wug'. They were then shown a picture of two of the creatures and tole 'now there is another one, there are two of them - there are two...' encouraging the children to complete the sentence. Three to four-year-old children said there were 'two wugs'.

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DeCasper and Spence 1986 - Nativism

Found that babies sucked on their dummies more when their mothers read them the same stories they'd also read aloud in the last six months of pregnancy.

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Mehler et al (1988) - Nativism

Found that four day old French babies increased their sucking rate on a dummy, showing interest or recognition, when they heard French as opposed to Italian or English.

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Fitzpatrick (2002) - Nativism

Found that the heart rate of an unborn baby slowed when it heard its mothers voice.

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Petitto and Holowka (2002) - Nativism

Videoed infants and noticed that most babbling came more from the right side of the mouth, which is controlled by the left side of the brain. This side of the brain is responsible for speech production. Their findings suggest that babbling is a form of preliminary speech.

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Skinner 1957 - Behaviourist

Suggested that language is acquired through imitation and reinforcement.

Children repeat what they hear (imitation)

Caregivers reward a childs efforts with praise

They also reinforce what the child says by repeating words and phrases back and correcting mistakes.

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Aitchison 1987 - Behaviourist

Labelling: when a child links a sound to an object - they are able to call something by its correct name.

Packaging: When a child begins to understand the range of meaning a word might have. They recognise that the word bottle can cover different shapes and sizes, but that they all have a similar function.

Network Building: When a child starts to make connections between words, e.g. they understand that words have opposites like big and small or know that little and small are synonyms.

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Vygotsky 1978 - Behaviourist

Presented a social-cultural theory of language development. This theory suggests that social interaction and experiencing different social and cultural contexts are very important for language development. Vygotsky identified two significant factors that contribute to language development - private speech and the zone of proximal language development (ZPD).

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Bruner 1983 - Behaviourist

suggests that there is a language acquisition support system LASS - a system where caregivers support their child's linguistic development in social situations.

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Nelson 1973 - Behaviourist

Categorising First Words

∙ Naming (things or people) (She found 60% in this group)

∙ Actions/Events (Second largest, most common being up/down)

∙ Describing/Modifying things

∙ Personal/Social words (made up about 8% of the sample)

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Koluchová 1976 - Behaviourist

twin boys were reared from age 18 months to 7 yr in social isolation by a psychopathic stepmother and an inadequate father. On discovery, their mental age level was 3 yr, hilt after treatment, a period in a children's home and approximately 2 yr in a good foster‐home, they had made remarkable progress and now appear about average for their age due to reinforcement by foster mother.

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Kuhl 2003 - Behaviourist

Kuhl’s team exposed 9-month-old American babies to Mandarin in various forms—in person interactions with native Mandarin speakers vs. audio-visual or audio recordings of these speakers—and then looked at the impact of this exposure on the babies’ ability to make Mandarin phonetic contrasts (not found in English) at 10-12 months of age.

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Katamba 1996 - Behaviourist

found that there was little connection between the frequency with which these inflections are used by parents and the order in which children acquire them.

'A' and 'The' are used most frequently, and '-ed' least frequently, but they're fourth and fifth in terms of acquisition. This suggests that imitation doesn't have a strong influence on how children learn inflections.

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Child Directed Speech - Behaviourist

When adults use changes in intonation, pitch, elongation of words etc in order to engage children and encourage a child to interact as they are easier to understand ∙ Phonology and prosody - Intonation is exaggerated and words are stressed more strongly than they are in adult conversation. The pitch is usually higher. Words and phrase are repeated. The pace is often much slower with longer pauses ∙ Lexis - Vocab is simplified e.g. nana instead of banana; caregivers use reduplication e.g. din-din; They also use diminutives e.g. birdie/doggie; A high proportion of words will refer to touchable objects ∙ Grammar - Syntax is simplified e.g. Annie go for walk?; Proper nouns are used instead of pronouns e.g. How is Annie feeling?/ Give mummy your hand; Frequent repetition of the child's name; The present tense is used more than the past

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Piaget 1980 - Cognitive

Piaget developed the cognitive approach which focuses on the importance of mental processes. Piaget stated that a child needs to have developed certain mental abilities before he or she can acquire particular aspects of language.

At first a child can mentally process the concept that something can exist outside their immediate surroundings. This is called being egocentric.

By the time they are 18 months old, children realise that things have object permanence - they can exist all the time even if the child cannot see them. This coincides with a big increase in vocabulary.

The child is then mentally better equipped to understand abstract concepts like past, present and future.

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Berko and Brown 1960 FIS PHENOMENON - Cognitive

Reported what they referred to as fis phenomenon. A child referred to his plastic fish as 'fis'. When an adult asked the child 'is this your fis', the child said no, stating instead that it was his 'fis'. When the adult asked instead 'is this your fish?' the child said 'yes, my fis'. This suggests that children can recognise and understand a wider range of phonemes than they can produce.

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Cruttenden 1985 - Cognitive

Found that ten-year-olds had difficulty distinguishing between:

·         She dressed, and fed the baby (she dressed herself and fed the baby) and

She dressed and fed the baby (she dressed the baby and fed it too

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Lenneberg 1967 - Cognitive

Proposed the critical period hypothesis, which states that without linguistic interaction before ages 5-6, language development is severely limited. ~ Koluchová 1976 case study 

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