Language Acquisition Key Information

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Pre-verbal stage


  • Sounds of discomfort and reflex actions - 0-4 months


  • Comfort sounds and vocal play using open mouthed vowel sounds 4-7


  • Repeated patterns of consonant and vowel sounds - 6-12


  • Word-like vocalisations, not matching actual words but used consistently for the same meaning (sometimes called scribble talk). For example: Using 'mm' to mean 'give me that', with acompanying gestures such as pointing, supporting the verbal message.
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Lexical and grammatical stages of development


  • One word utterances - 12 months


  • Two-word combinations - 18-24 months


  • Three or more words combined - 24-36


  • More grammatically complex combinations - 36+
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Early phonological errors


  • Omitting the final consonant in words - do(g), cu(p)


  • Substituting one sound for another (especially the harder sounds that develop later, such as s' - 'pip' for 'ship'


  • Adding an extra vowel soud to the ends of words, creating a CVCV pattern - doggie


  • Repeating whole syllables - dada, mama

Consonant cluster

  • Consonant clusters can be difficult to articulate so children often reduce them to smaller units - pider for spider

Deletion of unstressed syllables

  • Omitting the opening syllable in polysullabic words - nana for banana
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Aitchison's stages of children's linguistic develo

1) Labelling

Linking words to objects to which they refer, understanding that things can be labelled

2) Packaging

Exploring the labels and to what they can apply

Over/underextension occurs in order to eventually understand the range of a word's meaning

3) Network building

Making connections between words, understanding similarities and opposites in meanings

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Piaget's stages of CLD

Sensorimotor - Up to 2 years

  • The child experiences the physical word through the senses and begins of classifying the things in it; lexical choices, when they appear, tend to be concrete rather than abstract
  • Object permenance develops, the concept that objects exist when out of sight

Pre-operational - 2-7 years

  • Language and motor-skills develop and become more competent
  • Language is egocentric - either focused on the child or used by the child when no one else is around

Concrete operational - 7-11 years

  • Children begin thinking logically about concrete events

Formal operational - 11+ years

  • Abstract reasoning skills develop
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Stages of negative formation

1) Uses 'no' or 'not' at the beginning or end of sentence - 'No wear shoes'

2) Moves 'no/not' inside the sentence - 'I no want it'

3) Attaches the negative auxiliary verbs and the coupla verb 'be' securely - 'No, I don't want to go to nursery I am not'

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Stages of morpheme acquisition

  • Present tense progressive '-ing'
  • Prepositions 'in, on'
  • Plural '-s'
  • Past tense irregular 'run/ran'
  • Uncontractible coupla 'it, was'
  • Articles 'the, a'
  • Past tense regular '-ed'
  • Uncontractible auxiliary verb 'they were running'
  • Contractible coupla 'she's'
  • Contractible auxiliary 'she's running'
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Halliday's functions of speech


  • Fulfil a need (e.g. 'want milk')


  • Influence the behaviour of others e.g. 'pick up'


  • Develop and maintain social relationships e.g. 'love you'


  • Convey individual opinions, ideas and personal identity e.g. 'me like Charlie and Lola'


  • Convey facts and information e.g. 'it hot'
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Dore's language functions

Labelling - naming a person, object or thing

Repeating - repeating an adult, word or utterance

Answering - Responding to an utterance of another speaker

Requesting action - Asking for something to be done for them

Calling - Getting attention by shouting

Greeting - Greeting someone or something

Protesting - Objecting to requests from others

Practising - Using kanguage when no adult is present

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