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University of Toronto St. George

Language acquisition - To acquire a language is to acquire its grammar, the mental knowledge that allows people to speak and understand a language - The development of linguistic skills involves grammar acquisition o Children can produce and understand an unlimited number of novel utterances o Children make speech errors Methods - The naturalistic approach o Investigators observe and record childrens spontaneous utterances o Longitudinal studies, which take place over an extended period of time, focusing on one child or group o Naturalistic data Advantageous for providing information on the process of language acquisition Disadvantageous for non-uniform coverage of all phenomena, too- small samples o Diary study Daily note-keeping on a childs linguistic progress o Taped interviews Gathering samples of child-caregiver interactions - The experimental approach o Investigators make use of specially designed tasks to elicit linguistic activity o Cross-sectional studies, which compares linguistic knowledge of different children or groups of children at one point in development o Truth judgment task Given statements about given pictures and asked to judge their veracity Tests comprehension o Act out task Given toys and asked to enact a sentence Tests comprehension o Production task Given situation requiring use of a particular sort of question or statement o Imitation task Given an utterance and asked to repeat it Phonological development - Babbling o Onset of speech
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