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Chapter 11

PSYC 351 Chapter 11.docx

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University of Calgary
PSYC 351

Chapter 11 1. Theories of Language Development  How do children master the particular language to which they are exposed?  Productivity- the property of language that permits humans to produce and comprehend an infinite number of statements. Such languages are not simply passed through genetics. So, environment has to do with acquiring language!  Variety aspect of language also indicate that a purely genetic explanation is not a good one  support against purely nurture: children learn tough grammars without parents having to teach them Nativist Theory  Noam Chomsky proposed and challenged B.F skinner's operant conditioning  Nativist theory- a theory of language development that stresses innate mechanisms separate from cognitive processes  arguments against nurture: no rewards, punishments, imitation is not always of good models, productivity properly, rules we use in speaking or comprehending language are extremely complex but adults don't really teach it to the kids  So, children must be born with special brain mechanisms, separate from other cognitive processes, that allow them to acquire language quickly and easily  According to Chomsky's model, language can be described in two types of structures o surface structure- the way words and phrases are arranged in spoken languages o deep structure- inborn rules humans possess that underlie any language system  Language Acquisition Device (LAD)- Chomsky's proposed brain mechanism for analyzing speech input; the mechanism that allows young children to quickly acquire the language  Transformational grammar- a set of rules developed by the LAD to translate a language's surface structure to a deep structure that the child can innately understand  the development of these transitional skills occur gradually  children arrange word components in the same order, regardless of how their parents speak (who does what to whom)  Changes to chomsky's theory: o language was no longer seen as extraordinarily complex o language was no longer seen as extremely special since many of its mechanisms are shared with other cognitive and innate abilities  Sensitive period o Penfield's theory: language can only be learned before a certain age and cannot be acquired after that point (i.e. Genie 13 yr old never reattained her language) o adult signers who acquired sign after early childhood performed less well in sign language o we cannot really learn a second language fully after childhood--> immersion programs  once children grasp grammar of language ---> can understand and produce diverse sentences  analyzing and processing mechanisms evolved specifically for language acquisition and are concerned only with the abstract structure of speech (subject-verb-object), not with meaning or content  so cognitive abilities demand is not that high so cognitively immature kids can also learn language Environmental/Learning Approaches  rather than operant conditioning, theorists more use bandura's cognitive model  children use modelling and observational learning  infant directed speech: simplified speech directed at very young children by adults and older children. slow, careful pronunciation and exaggerated intonation, familiar words, repetition, short, simple, grammatically accurate. So, this could explain the imperfect language of children  children with more one on one interaction have advanced language development  parents also provide feedback and interaction  summary: social and environmental factors may play a significant role in children's language acquisition Cognitive Developmental Models  1st cognitive approach: Belief that children have a good knowledge about the world and they use it to help them learn language. they acquire language forms that they incorporate to already existing cognitive concepts o concept is necessary before language can be incorporated. for example, infants need a concept of object permanence before they begin using disappearance words such as "all gone". o words can influence concepts. So a new object category can be learned by 3 months if they are paired with other examples of that category rather than a consistent musical tone  2nd cognitive approach : children use their early cognitive concepts to extract the rules of language from the speech they hear o children first analyze speech into semantic concepts that involve relations among objects, actions and events o children have an early understanding of agent, patient, action o when they hear words, they categorize words into those three categories and then make a speech that follows who did what to whom  3rd cognitive approach: children can track regularities in language input, such as syllables co-occurring to form words or subject words preceding action words. They then use these high probability co occurrence to rapidly learn about words and grammar. Statistical branch of connectionism (from IP theory chapter 9) o these theorists argue that the child's ability to track probabilities and distributions is innate, but language is not special Sociocultural Approaches  stresses the cognitive abilities for language acquisition in conjunction with a supportive social environment  child's primary motivation for acquiring language is social interaction  emphasizes on pragmatics- the uses of language  Language Acquisition Support System- Bruner's proposed process by which parents provide children with assistance in learning language; Central concept of LASS: o format- consists of structured social interactions, routines that commonly take place between mother and child; script like. (playing naming games, reading books together) o formats allow the child to learn language simply by memorizing them with their corresponding actions o in this process, parents may use infant directed language (repetition, simplifying speech, correcting child's inaccurate words)  emphasis is on the rich set of social cognitive abilities that both children and adults can bring to the interaction 2. The Preverbal Period  Children produce their first words at ~1 yr of age  Children combine words at ~ 18 months  Language acquisition represents a continuous process  Abilities developed during infancy are the basic building blocks of the language skills that appear later on Speech Perception  phonology- study of speech sounds  to comprehend language, the listener must divide a continuous sentence into syllables, words, statements. listeners must notice rising and falling intonations, pauses, stresses  phonetic properties- different kinds of sounds that can be made by our vocal apparatus o articulation develops in a predictable manner: "r" appears later  phonemic properties- contrasts in speech sounds that change the meaning of what is heard o care and core are of different phonemic categories o the ability to distinguish between phonemic properties= categorical perception o ~1 month aged babies have this ability o Same thing if the language was never heard by the child.  role of experience: babies more exposed to a language --> sharper phonemic discrimination in that language. lack of exposure dulls these abilities o 7 month olds can discriminate between r and l, but 11 month olds cannot. So if a discrimination is not necessary, the ability to distinguish it disappears  strategies used by babies for speech perception o frequency of co-occurrence: 8 months old kids can use this frequency to distinguish between common and uncommon patterns of speech sounds o location of a word's stress  initially, infants have difficulty applying their perceptual skills to word learning, confusing similar sounding new words, although they can distinguish it  linking a word to an object: infants perceive and attend to details of both word and object---> encodes relevant info---> retrieve and maintain access to that info.  decreasing the difficulty of the task shows that infants have the underlying ability to apply their speech perception skills to early words Listening Preferences  infants prefer normal speech rather than jumbled speech  prefer natural speech over audio  prefers listening to mother's voice any other voice  prefers own language rather than another(if bilingual mother, then both)  prefers infant directed talk (same with deaf children)  benefits: heightening interests, and much more  infant directed talk can: o help with phonemic distinction o help 7 mon babies use frequency of syllable co-occurrence to detect word boundaries o remember words Early Sounds  earliest sounds: non-speech utterances: cries, burps, grunts  2 months: one syllable vowel sounds as cooing or consonant vowel combination (accompanied by smile and positive attitude)  6 months: reduplicated babbling- the infant strings together several identical sounds as in babababababa  end of 1st year: speechiness: combines different sounds: bama, dadoo, boonee  many of the sounds that infants produce late in the babbling period are sounds that they will display when they first begin to produce words  babbling drift: a hypothesis that infants' babbling gradually gravitates toward the language they are hearing and soon will speak  if babies do not hear speech, will they still display babbling? yes, but the nature and course of babbling are not identical to the typical pattern: o delay in the onset of reduplicated babbling o reduced number of well formed syllabus  babies who can't babble due to respiratory problems (similar to deaf children), lag behind in articulation of words.  so babbling, hearing one's own or others' speech might be necessary for articulation  one type of babbling doesn't require vocal skills: deaf children learning sign language display a sort of gestural babbling. hearing children of deaf parents also use gestural babbling  strong biological role: infants have the inborn ability to babble either visually or auditorally Gestures and Non-Verbal Responses  Functions of gestures: o 8-10 months infants use gesture to request for things o 11-12 months referential communications- talking about something in the environment  showing--->giving--->pointing and labelling o gestures can serve as words o symbolizing objects or events (using hand as a telephone) o to label attributes of objects  is this early system of gestures related to the emergence of language? yes.  children who use more gesturing use more words Baby Sign Language  Gestures are a natural early step on the road of communication  baby signs consists of isolated signs, that may or may not be based on words from sign..these signs are never combined into sentences  provides an increased parent child interaction Deaf Infants  deaf children eventually master sign language  despite the absence of usual supports for language, many such children spontaneously develop a complex gestural system  deaf children created a new language with an expansive vocabulary and grammatical rules  children in the community adapted home signs as common signs  conclusion: humans have the tendency to develop language if possible Transition Words  12 months-->most children utter what their parents consider to be their first word  kids attach their favourite word to everything  children more quickly learn words that involve sounds and syllables that they are already using: suggesting that early speech builds on babbling skills: continuity view of language  preverbal communications forms do not immediately stop when words appear...  after baby speaks, babbling continues  so the process is very continuous Semantics  Semantics is the study of meaning in language  Semantics includes meanings of words and also me
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