Lecture 6: Language Development Flashcards Preview

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Theories of language development: behaviourist approach

• Acquired through operant conditioning (e.g. Skinner)
• Reinforcement & imitation
• Does not account for infants creation of novel utterances, & huge vocabulary in early childhood
• Language is acquires through reinforced imitation, increasing process of being reinforced for saying the right word
• Doesn’t fit with some of ways child don’t know right way come up qith creative way
• Theory struggles to explain spurt in early childhood munber of words you are learning


Theories of language development: Nativist approach

• Noam Chomsky (1957) -Language Acquisition Device
• Innate system that is uniquely human
• Universal grammar - rules can apply to all language forms
• Biological time frame for language development: had to get input at certain time to have typical language development
• Language so extraordinary, develops so quickly, thought uniquely human
• Something about human brain innate developed in brains innant for LAD that accounts for how extraordinary our lang development is


Evaluation of Nativist view

• Deaf children develop novel language: spontaneously created own sign language
• Animals unable to develop complex language: chips can sign single words, some evidence can put 2 words together using sign although some people disagree that they are joining two words as humans would so
• Specific areas of the brain linked to language: if there is LAD where is it? 1. Broca’s area : damage=struggle to get words out 2. Wernicke’s area: damage can talk about but jibberish
• But is less localised than initially thought
• Sensitive period for language development
E.g., Genie, never heard any language, did develop language but was never fluent, not had inpit at right time \never able to speak it fluently

• Difficulty in specifying universal grammar
• Grammatical development is gradual and extends into middle childhood
• Fails to account for pragmatics
• Bit simplistic in terms of LAD


Theories of language development: Interactionist approach

• Interaction between innate abilities & environment
• Information processing
-Connectionist or neural network simulations
-Make sense of language using general cognitive abilities
-Brain skilled at detecting pattern
Damage to left hemisphere causes language problems, but also difficulty with other ‘patterns’, e.g., music

• Social Interaction
-Innate desire to understand and be understood
-Stimulating language environment important


Stages of language development

• Prenatal – speech can be heard in utero
• Birth – Perception of phonemes
• 2-3 months – cooing
• 4-6 months – babbling
• 9-18 months – first words
• 18-24 months – telegraphic speech (two-words)
• Early childhood
o huge increase in vocab (~10,000 by 6 years)
• Middle childhood
o Vocab expands to ~40,000 words by age 11 years


Pragmatic development

• How it is acceptable to communicate
• Social rules governing conversation
-Turnabout (early childhood) (take turns talking)
-Shading (from ~5 years)


Illocutionary intent

indirect requests, ‘I need a crayon’: understanding needs of listener, understanding that means there’s crayons near you pass them to me
-Basic understanding by age 3, develops into middle childhood


Referential communication skills

-got to take into account the listener to make your communication understandable
-Clarity of communication
-Take listeners’ needs into account
E.g., using gestures on the telephone
-Improves over pre-school and middle school years