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Lecture 8

PSYB20 - Lecture 8.docx

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Mark Schmuckler

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PSYB20 – Lecture 8 Prof’s Speech - Purple - Basic progress – in infancy, babies distinguish basic sounds of language, say first words, by 1-2 years of age, start to combine words, by 6 years, have thousands of words in vocabulary - Nativist – children are strongly prewired - 1950s – researchers didn’t take young children figuring out important properties of language seriously Slide 2 – Theories of Language Development - The Behaviourist Approach o Children at an early age are creative with language – they can create novel phrases  This creative ability is a problem for the behaviourist account - B.F. Skinner o Learning language through conditioning  Language is acquired through the principles of learning and conditioning, specifically operant conditioning  Parents reinforce child to produce language (operant condition) o Learning language through imitation  Children will use imitation to acquire complex phrases  Children combine operant conditioning and imitation to produce language development  Reinforcement and imitation have clear roles, but are seen as supporting of language development, not the fundamental cause Slide 3 – The Nativist Approach - Noam Chomsky o Child’s ability to learn language – uniquely human skill that is hardwired into the brain - The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) o Given the components of language/grammar, the child has to use the LAD to learn language o The existence of universal grammar  Set of grammatical rules universal to languages  Learn to speak language in a fundamentally role-oriented fashion  Newborns are sensitive to speech sounds  All children reach language milestones in a similar sequence o Are children biological prepared to learn language?  The ability to master a grammatically complex language seems to be uniquely human  Work with chimps and language may argue this, but the most highly trained chimp is not near equivalent to a 3-4 year old  When humans hear language, they can easily and rapidly learn that language - Language areas in the brain o Area has received much attention in the past 30-40 years o Language is housed in the left hemisphere of the brain o Complicated relationship between language the following two areas o Neither area is mainly responsible for specific language function – language function is housed in the left hemisphere, not solely these areas o If damage occurs in the brain at an early age, other areas of the brain can start to take over those functions o Broca’s area (left frontal lobe) – grammatical processing and language production o Wernicke’s area (left temporal lobe) – comprehending word meaning o Aphasias – communication disorder  Broca’s aphasia – pronounciation problem, problem with grammar  Wernicke’s aphasia – meaningless speech o Sensitive periods for language development  Period where child is primarily ready for language, weaker version of critical period  Research on American Sign Language (ASL)  Late learners never become as proficient at ASL than those who learn it in childhood  Second language learning  Age of immigration – related to language learning; older age of immigration, the more difficult it is to learn language  Brain image studies support this idea  When learning a second language, it doesn’t become as lateralized when you are older  No clear boundary as to when sensitive periods being and end  People can learn 2 languages throughout their lives (countering the idea of a sensitive period) o Limitations of the nativist view  Problems in specifying universal grammar  Innate grammatical knowledge and language development  Notion doesn’t fit; child knows how to use the rule but generally uses and produces errors as he/she is learning  Mastery of language is not achieved until mid-late childhood  Learning process is ongoing  Chomsky – major impact on the views of language development o Developmental account was challenged on many grounds o Difficulty in establishing a structure of the universal grammar  Problem: absence of description of the universal grammar, what are the rules?  Brains of bilinguals process information differently than monolinguals Slide 5 – The Interactionist Approach - Emphasizes inner capacity/skills and environment - Michael Tomosello o Information processing perspective  Child makes sense of language environment o Social interaction perspective  Emphasizes social skills  Pressure to communicate uses caregivers to provide appropriate language exposure for the child  Parents provide much social support for language Slide 6 – Getting Ready to Talk - Before child says first words, they have pre-language abilities - Cooing and babbling o Around 2 months – babies begin to make vowel-like sounds – cooing o Around 6 months – in CV combination, babbling takes place o Babbling in infancy  Babies everywhere babble, including deaf babies  For babbling to develop, baby has to be able to hear his/her own speech o Babbling in deaf infants  Babbling tends to stop in deaf infants  Deaf children begin to babble with hands (onset of ASL?) o
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