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Chapter 1

PSY315H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Childes, Bsc Young Boys, Intellectual Disability


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY315H5
Professor
Judy Plantinga
Chapter
1

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Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Language
LANGUAGE AND THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
A Definition of Language
Language is the systematic and conventional use of sounds (or signs or written symbols)
oComplex and multifaceted
A child who comes to learn language:
oAchieves the ability to recognize and produce a set of sounds and learns how
these sounds can and cannot be combined into possible words
oComes to know the multiple ways in which pieces of the language can and
cannot be systematically combined to form words and sentences
oComes to know how to combine sentences into larger units of discourse – to tell
a story or have a conversation
Children learn to use the language they have learned in socially appropriate ways
Children also learn to use language in its written form
Most of the research on language development has been conducted with children
exposed to only one language; studies of multilingual and bilingual are fewer
Children develop language in different domains of language concurrently
Phonology: sounds and sound system of a language
oEx. Being able to distinguish between /vat/ and /bat/
Lexicon: words and associated knowledge
oEx. Knowing the meaning of words and how to form new words
Morphology: system for combining units of meaning (words and parts of words such as
–ed)
oEx. Knowing the difference in meaning between Man bites dog and Dog bites
man
Syntax: system for combining words into sentences
oEx. Knowing that Man bite dog and Bite man dog are both ungrammatical
Pragmatics: knowledge that underlies the use of language to serve communicative
functions
oEx. Being able to comment
Sociolinguistics: knowledge that allows the socially appropriate use of language
Literacy: knowledge of reading and writing
A Chronological Overview of Language Development
Figure 1.1 (Major Milestones of Language Development)
oBirth to 1 Year children change in communicativeness of their behavior and in
the repertoire of sounds they produce
6 months move from understanding no words at birth to recognizing
their names
8-10 months understanding a few other words
On average, children begin top produce speech at about 1 year
o2nd Year development in the domain of vocabulary
Begin this year by producing their first word and by the end of the year,
they have a productive vocabulary of about 300 words and are producing
word combinations

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Changes in articulation abilities and underlying phonological
representations
Increase in frequency and conversational relevance of their
communicative acts
o3rd Year increase in children’s mastery of grammar
Begin the year by producing two- and three-word affirmative, declarative
sentences that lack grammar endings on nouns and verbs (i.e. Plural and
past tense markers)
End of the year, they are able to produce full sentences, including
questions
Vocabulary grows, articulation of sound improves and children begin to
gain awareness of phonological properties of language
Increase in conversational skills and begin to introduce short accounts of
past events into their conversation
o3rd- 4th Year refining and further developing what they already know
Grammar start to produce complex, multi-clause sentences
Commonly said language acquisition is completed by Year 4
Language skills continue to grow in every domain after 4 years
Articulation, vocabulary, sentence structure and communicative skills all
develop
Learn new ways of using language as children move for home to school
Reasons for the Scientific Study of Language Development
Behaviorism: holds that change in behavior occurs in response to the consequences of
prior behavior
oEx. Rats that do not initially push the levers come to press the levers after
receiving food pellets for producing behaviors that increasingly approximate
lever pressing
Cognitivism: asserts the opposite – we cannot understand behavior without
understanding what is going on inside the mind of the organism producing the behavior
oBehaviorism came to be seen as inadequate and focus of explanations to human
behavior turned to internal mental processes
Cognitive revolution lead to a new field called cognitive science
oCognitive scientists agree that you need to understand how the mind works to
explain behavior, but do not agree on how the mind works
Language Development as an Applied Research Topic
Is aimed at understanding the nature of language skills that characterize children from
diverse backgrounds and identifying the best approaches to educating them
Is also focused on trying to understand the nature of the problems that underlie
children’s difficulty (such as intellectual disability, hearing impairment, etc.) and on
finding techniques for helping these children acquire language skills
THE HISTORY OF THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Big Questions and Studies of Special Cases
The Language in the Brain
First recorded language acquisition experiment Egyptian King Psammetichus
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