AQA English Languge - Child Language Aquisition, Stages and Theories

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Beginnings of language development

Pre birth

  • Has been scientifically proven that a baby can recognise the mothers voice.
  • Before the child is born it can recognise words.
  • Music can develop a baby’s brain.


  • Child expresses itself through crying.
  • They show reflexive responses and not conscious responses.
  • Child starts with vowel ‘A’ sounds.
  • They learn to control their air stream mechanism.

Stage 2: COOING & LAUGHING STAGE (8-20 weeks)

  • Make different cooing noises – e.g. ‘coo’, ‘goo’ ‘ga-ga’
  • Recognise parents faces and speech.
  • Towards the end of the stage they begin to string cooing noises.
  • They recognise language has a structure.
  • Learn to express themselves through laughing and chuckling.
  • Have control over their tongue.

Stage 3: VOCAL PLAY (20-30 weeks)

  • Begin to use consonant and vowel sounds.
  • Able to adjust pitch.
  • ‘playing and experimenting’

Stage 4: BABBLING STAGE (25-50 weeks)

  • 2 types of babbling sounds-
  • --> RE-DUPLICATING- repeat sounds (e.g. woof woof)
  • --> VARIGATED- use different sound patterns and put them together.
  • The words have no meaning to the child as they think they are just making sounds.

Stage 5: MELODIC UTTERANCE STAGE (10-13 months)

  • A variation in rhythm, melody and tone is shown
  • The child begins to see some meaning to what they say.
  • Proto words used- when the child doesn’t say words it recognises but realises that words are parts of a sound.


  • Developments occur rapidly.
  • Intonations used to show feelings and purpose.
  • Children begin to develop at different levels.
  • Single word utterances – concrete nouns
  • Holophrastic phrases – couple of words put together which have no grammatical concept
  • Child learns about 10-20 words each month.
  • Over extension – when child uses one word to describe lots of things.
    • no concept of differentiating
    • e.g. 4 legged object = dog
  • Under extension - have yet to acquire the knowledge that there are many numbers of the same thing in the world ( e.g. lots of cars in world)
    • have yet to acquire the concept of concrete nouns.
  • Mismatch – get the name of something wrong (e.g. car = doll)
  • Begin to use modifiers so add extra words in front of another word (e.g. go sleep)


  • Have a vocabulary of 200 words – shows how quickly they are learning.
  • Pronunciation  - some syllables dropped (e.g. tomato = mato)
    • Consonant clusters avoided i.e. sky - guy
    • Re-duplicate sounds- e.g. baby = baybay
    • no consistency of speaking

Pragmatic development  

The functions of children’ language

  • HALLIDAY 1978 – suggested 7 stages which show the functions of a child's language.
  • The first 4 stages help the child to satisfy its physical, emotional and social needs.


  • Child uses language to express needs and get what they want.
  • First words are mainly concrete nouns
  • E.g. want drink


  • Language…


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