Language Development


What is language?

  • A system of communication 
  • Symbolic representation - each word stands for something 
  • Words have no meaning
  • Common understanding of the meaning to communicate 
1 of 11

What are the reasons for crying behaviour?

  • To convey a physiological need to the carer
  • A survival mechanism indicating healthy development
  • A part of attachment formation
  • Sending and receiving of messages between mother and infant 
  • Evidence of consistent biological responses in mother's brain 
  • Crying child could receive more food/resources than a quieter child
2 of 11

What are the four components of language?

  • Phonology 
  • Semantics
  • Syntax
  • Pragmatics
3 of 11

Describe the four components of language.


  • Sound system 
  • Which sounds can go together
  • Making speech sounds 
  • Discriminating between phonemes 


  • Meaning of words and sentences 


  • Rules and order of words in sentences 


  • Ability to modify language depending on context and social rules
4 of 11

Name some precursors to language development.

  • Meshing 
  • Pseudo-dialogue 
  • Pointing 
  • Crying 
  • Babbling 
  • Cooing 
  • Nodding 
  • Waving 
5 of 11

What is required to learn speech-sound perception?

Need to recognise and remember speech sounds 

  • Innate preference for familiar pattern/language

Need to be able to separate words in speech stream

  • Use prosodic (tune and rhythm) cues and focus on syllables 

Need to be able to link sounds to meanings

  • Associate words and objects/actions 
6 of 11

What is the development of speech production?

  • 4 months - experiment with volume and position of tongue 
  • 6 months - canonical babble (syllables of consonant and vowel) e.g. da ba 
  • 8 months - duplicated babble e.g. da-da
  • 10 months - variegated babble e.g. da-de
  • 12 months - spurt in vocabulary 
7 of 11

What are the learning theories of language develop

Skinner (1957) - Reinforcement 

  • Adults respond to/reward attempts to talk 
  • Teach and repeat associations between objects and words 
  • Reinforcement for sounds/sentences

Bandura (1971) - Imitation

  • Learn language and accent of social group 
  • Parents recite phrases for repetition
  • There is lack of evidence of it teaching grammar 
8 of 11

Describe Chomsky's (1965) theory.

  • Language is universal
  • Common features such as nouns and verbs 
  • Similar acquisition in all societies
  • Poverty of input - can produce previously unheard sentences
  • Language acquisition device (LAD) - mechanism to learn any language 
  • More exposure produces basic rules of grammar 
9 of 11

What is brain lateralisation in terms language?

  • Cognitive processes may be more dominant in one hemisphere of the brain than the other 
  • Broca's area involved in speech production
  • Wernicke's area involved in language comprehension
  • Plasticity allows for early compensation for damage (5 years)
  • Supports Chomsky's LAD
10 of 11

What is the biological basis for language developm

  • Only species with brain structure to produce language 
  • Innate ability to distinguish speech sounds/patterns
  • Chimps can learn words 
  • Use of grammar is unique to humans 
  • Can construct relatively complex sentences in pre-school
  • Subtle use of word meaning in jokes and stories 
11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Developmental Psychology resources »