Language Aquisition

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  • Created by: EC
  • Created on: 09-03-13 15:56

Early language development

evidence suggesting lang development starts before birth:

  • DeCasper & Spencce 1986: babies sucked on their dummies more when mother read them a the same story they'd also read during their last 6months of pregnancy.
  • Mehler et al 1988: 4 day old babies increased sucking rate on dummy (showing recognition) when hearing French, as opposed to Italian or English
  • Fitzpatrick 2002: heart rate of unborn baby slowed down when hearing mother's voice

....suggests in womb babies become familiar with sounds, rhythms & intonations


Period between bith & first word spoken: pre-verbal or pre-language stage.

Crying: 1st main vocal expression, indicates hunger, discomfort or pain to caregiver.

Not a conscious act but an instinctive reponse to how it feels.

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Early language development #2

Cooing stage: (6-8 weeks old) babies start to make small range of sounds, getting used to lips and tongue. Words don't carry meaning, just experimenting.

Babbling stage: (6 months old)

  • babies start to repeat consonant/vowel combinations e.g. mamama.
  • sometimes sounds not repeated "googigooga" aka variegated babbling
  • babbling is innate: research shows that deaf babies babble with their hands
  • most argue babbling is a continuation of 'cooing', experimentation rather than meaning.
  • argument it's beginning of speech: Petitto & Holowka 2002: infants babbled more from right side of mouth, which is controlled by left side of brain (side of brain responsible for speech production)
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