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Lecture 3

Lecture 3- language aquisition by children.docx

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Caroline Barakat

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Chapter 10: Language acquisition by children
Learning Grammar (without trying)
- Learning substance requires working memory and effort. BUT the brain can pick up “structure”
without effort… so called implicit learning.
- Grammar is learned implicitly, simply by hearing others. Speaking children learn the basic rules
of grammar
- Chomsky’s notion of universal grammar.
- Our brain can pick up structure (language) without us even trying.
o This is portrayed in grammatical rules.
o Chompsky stated that we have an innate capacity to be able to pick up language
The “pre speech “ period
- Tuning & Pruning: The sensitivity of language to culture in children as young as 6 months old …
and some sensitivities become lost.
- At about 12 months of age, babies start producing vocalizations, initially mastering “stop
consenants”- “pa” “ba” , first word that babies say are “papa”
o There not just learning the phonemes they are learning the non-verbal aspects of
language as well.
- like “pa” and “ba” and slowly mastering more
- complex sounds like nasal sounds “ma”
- Eventually the babbling transforms to the use of
- real words as infants continue to master difficult phoneme
- distinctions like “wabbit” and compound sounds like “str” or “bl”.
- Children are very sensitive to language that is specific to the culture that they are in.
Two word stage
- 18 20 months … infants start using word pairs like “give juice” – language skills start to take off
- From 2-5 , is a critical period in language development . If children are exposed to language they
pick it up very well, but if they are not socialized properly they are unable to pick up language.
Explosion of vocabulary. (7-9 words per day).
- They also are beginning to learn words (they know about 50) and the learning continues at a
truly amazing rate (7 9 words per day).
- They often engage in “monotalk” or “cribtalk” before going to bed around this time.
- Kids engage in verbal engagement for their own entertainment. They tend to talk to themselves
and have a large imagination.
Grammar Learning
- Over time, nouns become noun phrases, adjectives (and other modifiers) are added, function
words get included, and “inflections” begin to be used (“ed”, “ing”).
- Weird phenomenon of overgeneralization errors:
- “I threw” … becomes “I throwed” … then returns to “I threw”
- “If adults commit adultery, do infants commit infantry? If olive oil is made from olives, what is
baby oil made from?” … are those cookies made from real girlscouts? We have compound
words and phrases that we don’t always use in all situations. Hence, it is difficult for us to
understand English. English is a challenging thing for people to learn.
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