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Lecture 6

EDUC 3750U Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Lev Vygotsky, Phonological Awareness, Language Processing In The Brain

Course Code
EDUC 3750U
Jennifer Laffier

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November 1, 2012
Linguistic development
complex; need to have working knowledge of many words, be able to articulate individual
vowel sounds, consonents, blends of consonant (th, bl)
most langages share certain characeristics suc as rules for forming negatives and asking
questions - some linguists believe that the ability to acquire language is 'hard wired'
Connectionist theorists later challenged that view, suggesting that there is no hard wiring or
language acquistition device, but rather there is an ability to detect patterns and calculate
probabilities; children pay attention to patterns related to language
Sensitive period - age range during which a certain aspect of a child's development is especially
susceptible to environmental conditions - children can master verb tenses and flawless
pronunciation if they are exposed to a language within the first five to ten years of life; vocabulary
acquisition doesn't begin to slow down until mid-teens
By the times kids begin school at age 5 or six, they use language that seems adultlike in many
respects. Over the years, there are changes in receptive language and expressive language
Receptive language - the ability to understand the language that one hears or reads
Expressive language - the ability to communicate effectively through speaking and writing
aspects of linguistic development - phonology, semantics, syntax, pragmatics
phonology (sounds of a language) and sensitivity to the rhythmic and melodic qualities of
language (prosody) and perception of phonemes or individual speech sounds - infants are aware
of these before they're born and it plays a role in learning to read
Development of phonological awareness
allophone - variations of a single phoneme that do not make any difference to a word's
children's phonological sensitivity continues to develop during the preschool years, enabling
most children to master the phonology of new languages until they are well into the primary
Online lecture
Social Development
o Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory of Learning
Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
One of the first educators that pointed out that you shouldn't dismiss the value and
impact that a student's culture, environment and home life have on learning
Believed in the impact of culture
o Social constructivism
The process by which knowledge is actively created through social relationships and

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Constructivism: Children create their own knowledge
They don't just soak up information and know it
Experiences and beliefs impact what we think
We relate what we learn to what we already know -> we look for patterns and
ways for us to store information
Social constructivism: our social interactions help construct our knowledge
Influenced by environment and culture
The connection between language and thought
Zone of proximal development -> each child possesses a zone of learning abilities, the
lower end being what they can accomplish on their own and the higher end being
things they can do if they have received help from older or more knowledgeable
How will you use this theory to help students?
Bottom end -> what they can do on their own; top -> what they can do
with help
Where are you? Targeting the lower end where they can do on their
own? Or are you at the top, challenging them to reach their best
We want to be teaching to the top end -> this is how you
motivate children -> keep them engaged
Tools for intellectual development
Challenge kids -> but give them assistance
We need to know where kids come from so we can instruct them
The process of adjusting instruction so that it is responsive to a beginner's
behaviour and supports the beginner's efforts to understand a problem or gain
a mental skill
As the child grasps the skills the support is removed
Don't want to keep hovering over them -> need to promote independent
learning skills
Use "Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down" -> scaffolding is always adjusted, depending
on the kids
Some kids need more scaffolding, more support -> differentiated learning
For gifted kids, too much scaffolding is frustrating
You need to gauge your kids to judge how much scaffolding is
Our environment impacts our learning process
The child
Cultural values, beliefs, traditions
Social interaction with parents, siblings, peers, teachers
Language and communication skills
Language and thought
Language and thought develop separately then begin to merge around age 4
Kids will talk out loud -> "I'm going to play with this doll. I'm going to play
with this, nope, let's put that over there"
Self-directed language -> a GOOD sign of development
Language and communication with others, comes before internal thought
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