Language Acquisition

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Types of sounds produced


  • Created when airflow is briefly stopped.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:



  • Created when airflow is partially blocked and air moves through the mouth in a steady stream.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:


  • Created by putting plosives and fricatives.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:


  • Similiar sounds to vowels.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:


  • Created by air moving through the nose.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:


  • Created by placing the tongue on the ridge of teeth and then air moving dow  the side of the mouth.

Voiced:    Unvoiced:

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Early phonological errors.

Deletion("do'" for dog, "cu'" for cup)

  • Omitting the final consonant (letter) in words.

Substitution: ("'pid" for ship)

  • Replacing one sound with another.

Addition: ("doggie" for dog)

  • Adding an extra vowel soubd to the ends of words, creating a CVCV sound.


Assimilation: ("gog'" for dog)

  • Changing a consonant or vowel for another (such as the early plosive sounds "d" and "p").


Reduplication: ("dada", "mama")

  • Repeating a whole syllable.


Consnant cluster reductions: ("'pider" for spider)

  • As these can be difficult to say, children reduce them to small units.


Deletion of unstressed syllabes: ("'nana" for banana)

  • Omitting the opening syllable in polysyllabic.
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Piaget's stages of children's linguistic developme

Sensorimoter: (up to 2 years old)

  • Children experience the physical word via their senses.

Begin classifying things in:

  • Lexical choice
  • When they appear (tend to be concrete rather than abstract)
  • The idea that things exist when out of sight behins to occur to the children).


Pre-operational: (2-7 years old)

  • Language and motor skills develop.

Language is either:

  • Focused on the child or used by the child when no-one is around.


Concrete opefation: (7-11 years old)

  • Children bwgin thinking logically about concrete events.


Formal operation: (11+ years old)

  • Abstract reasoning skills to develop.


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Stages of grammatical development

One-word/Holophrastic: (12-18 months)

  • one word utterance.


Two-word: (18+24 months)

  • two words combined to create simple syntactical structures (subject+verb, verb+object)


Telegraphic:  (24-36 months)

  • three or more words joined in accurate orders (subject+verb+object, subject+verb+complement, subject+verb+adverbial)


Post-telegraphic: (36+ months)

  • awareness of grammatical rules and irregularities (saying "ran" instead of "runned")
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Meaning relations in two-words utterances (I)


Did someone (the do-er) perform an action?

"Daddy kick"

Dad kicks ball.



Does someone do something to an object (done-to)?

"Me ball"

Child kicks ball



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Stages of phonological development

Vegetative: (0-4 months)

  • sounds of discomfort or reflexive actions
  • crying, coughing, burping, sucking

Cooing: (4-7 months)

  • comfort sounds
  • vocal play
  • grunts + sighs become vowel-like "coo"s
  • laughter starts
  • hard consonants + vowel produced 
  • pitch (squeals + growls) and loudness (yells) practised

Babbling: (6-12 months)

  • extended sound sounding like syllanle sequences.

  • repeated patterns
  • sounds linking to mother tongue. 
  • Reduplicated (variegated) e.g. "agu" 


Proto-words: (9-12)

  • word-like vocalisations 
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Features of child-directed speech

  • repetition
  • higher pitch
  • usage of childs name rather tban pronouns
  • present tense speech
  • yes/no questions
  • one-word utterances
  • exaggeeated pauses to express turn-taking
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NATIVIST: (Noam Chumsky, Eric Lenneburg)

  • humans have an inbuilt capacity to learn language


  • language is learnt via imitation and reinforcement


SOCIAL INTERACTIONIST: (Jerome Bruner, Lev Vygotsky)

  • children learn language via Iinteraction with adults


COGNITIVE: (Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget)

  • language acquisition is part of a wider development of understanding that develops
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Nativist Theory

Noam Chomsky + Eric Lenneburg


  • develop at the same pace as ordinary
  • resist correction
  • create their own form of language not used by adults
  • show understanding that languages have grammatical rules by creating their own rules



  • stop overgeneralising and begin to learn language correctly
  • need input to give them more skills than grammar
  • children deprived of social interaction/contact can't acheive complete communicative competence


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Behaviourist Theory



  • imitate accent + dialect
  • learn politeness + pragmatics aspects of language)
  • repeat language around them and put into their own language


  • don't respond to correction
  • corrections may slow down development
  • imitate but fail to understand meanings
  • can learn correct grammatical language even when surounded with ingrammtical language


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Social Interactionist Theory

Jerome Bruner + Lev Vygotsky


  • routines teach children of turn-taking
  • role play suggests that more interactions with carers can affect vocabulary
  •  pragmatic develop suggests children learn politeness and verbally accept behaviour



  • children from cultures that don't promote child-adult interactions can stillbe articulate without the help of an adult
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Cognitive Theory

Lev Vygotsky + Jean Piaget


  • can't grasp aspects of language until they are ready (supported by the stages of development)
  • produce utterances with increasing in complexity, woring towards mastering a rule


  • children can sill use language beyond heir understanding
  • acquire language without any understanding of it (mainly in the early stages)
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Aitchinson's stage of children's lingustic develop


  • linking words to the objects to which they can refer, understanding that things can be labelled


  • explores the labels + what they can be applied to
  • over/underextention occurs in the process of understanding the range of a words meaning


  • creating connections in words, understanding similarities + opposites in meanings
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Types of overextention

Categorised overextetion:  60%

  • name for one member of a category is extended to all members of the category

  • (apple is used for all round fruits)

Analogical overexention: 15%

  • a word for one subject is used to mean somehing in a different category
  • (ball used for a round fruit)

Mismatch statements: 25%

  • child makes a statement about oe thing in relation to another
  • (saying "duck" when looking at an empty cup)
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Categorising list words

Katherine Nelson

Identified four categories of first words: 

  • naming (things or people)
  • actions/events
  • describing/modifying things
  • personal/soial words

Nouns made up 60%, verbs were the next biggest group, modifiers came third, personal/social words made up 8% of the sample

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Noam Chomsky

Language Acquisition Device;:

  • learning takes place in a specific area of the brain that is pre-programmed with the ability to use grammatical structures.

Universal Grammar:

  • the idea that while languages seems differentm they all share many similarities 

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Research point

Jarome Bruner's Language Acquisition System (LASS) explains how children learn to read via a four-phased stage:

  • Gaining attention: focusing attention on a picture
  • Query: asking what the object on a photo is
  • Label: telling what the object is
  • Feedback: responding to a baby's utterance
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Analytic phonics

  • to break down words into phonemes and graphemes
  • to decode words by seperating them into smaller units
  • to use rhyme or analogy to learn other words with similiar patterns, e.g c-a-t, m-a-t
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Synthetic phonics

  • remember up to 44 phonemes and their graphemes
  • recognise each grapheme and sound out each phoneme in a word
  • to memorise phonemes quickly (up to 5/6 sounds per week)
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Types of reading cues

Graphonics: looking at the shape of words and linking them to graphomes/words to interpret them

Semantic: understanding the meaning of words and making connections between words

Visual: looking at pictures to understand new words

Syntactic: using understanding of word and word cleasses to see if a words is in the right context

Contectual: searching for understanding in the situation of a story using personal experiences/own pragmatic understanding of csocail conventions

Miscue: making errors when reading

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Features pf reading schemes

Lexical repetition: commonly used when introduced to new lexis

Syntactical structures: usually subject-verb-object and simply sentences containing are clause

Simple verb: single verbs used

One sentence per line: helping children to utter complete sentences

Anaphonic referencing: pronouns to describe characters already named

Limited use of of modifiers: less use (to none) of modifiers, adjectives and advebs to simplify what they are reading

Text-image cohesion: the picture tells the story of the page

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Challs stages of childrens reading development (I)

Pre-reading and psuedo reading:(up to 6 yo) 11) "pretend" reading (turning pages and repeating stories told them before).  2) some letter and word recognition, often letters in thier names.

Initial reading and decoding: (6-7 yo) 1) reading simple texts with high lexis (developed when children understand the relation between phonemes and graphemes).

Confirmation and fleuncy:(7-8 yo)1) reading texrs quicker, accurately and fluently. 2) paying more attention to the meanings of words.

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Challs stages of childrens reading development(II)

Reading for learning:(9-14 yo)1) are motivated to read for knowledge and information

Multiplicity and complexity:(14-17 yo)1) respond criticallt to what they read and are able to analyse texts

Constructuon and reconstruction:(18+ yo)1) reading selectively and forming opinions about what they have read

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Kroll's stages of development

Preparation:(up to 6 yo)Basic motor skills are gained alongside some spelling

Consolidation:(7/8 yo) Writing is similiar to spoken language  (casual register, unfinished sentences and string of clauses joined by conjunction "and")

Differentiation: (9/10 yo)Understanding of difference between writing and speaking. Are able to write for different audiences and different purposes.

Intergration: (mid-teens yo)g this is the stage when children are able to develop a sense of self within their writing, where their writing style is clear.

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Rotherys cats of evaluating childrens writing (I)

Observation/ Comment:

  • the child makes an obervation ("I saw a tiger") followed by an evaluate comment ("it was very large") or mixes these together ("I saw a very large tiger")


  • a chronological sequence of events with the structure being:  orientation - event - reorientation
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Rotherys cats of evalauating childrens writing (II

Report a factual or objective description of events/ things, often not chronological

Narrative: a story genre where events are expected to take place and to resolve at the end, with the structure being: orientation - complication - resolution - coda (the last one while idintifying the point of the story, is not always included)

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Britton's three modes of children's writing (I)


  • Is the first mode to develop because it resembles speech
  • Written in first person and context is usually based on personal experience


  • develops later on as it needs skills in crafting and shaping language (is encouraged early bc of its creativity)
  • Phonological features like rhyme, rhythm and alliteration, and adjectives and similies are common


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Britton's three modes of children's writing (II)


  • tr develops are secondary school once children are able to seperate speech from writing
  • More impersonal in style and tone
  • Third person used to create a detached tone.
  • Formal sentence structure
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Spelling stages (I)


  • imitate writing, scribbling and using pretend writing


  • uses the ability to link shapes and letters to write words


  • understand that all phonemes can be repesented by graphemes; words become more complete
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Meaning relations in two-word utterancea (II)


Is a person or object described?

"Kitty big"

Sees tigers in zoo



Does an action affect an object?

"Throw stick"

Child throws stick


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Meaning relations in two-word utterances (III)


Does any action occur in a place?

"Sit chair"

Child sits on chair



Is an object located?

"Spoon table"

Spoon is on the table



Does an object have a possessor?

"Daddy coat"

Points to dad's coat



Is a person or object labelled?

"That cake"

That is a cake



Is an event repeated?

"More ball"

Finds second ball



Is something denied?

"no ball"

Has lost her ball


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Meaning realtions in two-word utterances (IIII)


Does an object have a possessor?

"Daddy coat"

Points to dad's coat



Is a person or object labelled?

"That cake"

That is a cake


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Meaning relations in two-word utterances (V)


Is an event repeated?

"More ball"

Finds second ball



Is something denied?

"no ball"

Has lost her ball


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Spelling stages (II)


  • combine phonic knowlegde and visual moemory together and so an awareness of the combinations of letter and letter pattern


  • spell most words correctly
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Main types of spelling errors made (I)


  • adding extra letters


  • omitting letters


  • replacing one letter for another


  • reversing the correct order of letters in words
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Main types of spelling errors made (II)

Phonetic spelling:

  • using sound awareness to guess the letter and combination of letters

Over/undergeneralisation of spelling rules:

  • using spelling rules in the wrong context, e.g. saying "runned" instead of "ran"

Salient (key) sounds:

  • writing only the key sounds
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