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Chapter 7

Chapter 7.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB32H3
Professor
Konstantine Zakzanis

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Chapter Notes Chapter 7: Language and Communication Human infants are prepared to respond to the language environment and to acquire language skills Crucial part of learning a language is the support provided by o/s Language: a communication system in which words and their written symbols combine in various regulated ways to produce an infinite number of messages Communicative competence the ability to convey thoughts, feelings, and intentions Productive language production of speech Receiving language understanding the speech of o/s The Components of Language: Phonology, Semantics, Grammar, and Pragmatics Kids learn various components of language simultaneously Phonology sounds that a particular language uses, rules about how we put phonemes together to form words and rules about the proper intonation patterns for phrases and sentences. Phonemes: smallest sound units that affect meaning, basic units of sound o Changing a phoneme can change the meaning of a word Semantics: the study of word meanings and word combinations o Comprehension of written/ spoken lang req understanding of how we use words and how we combine them in phrases, clauses, and sentences o Semantic knowledge s w/ childs intellectual maturity Grammar: describes the structure of language and consists of 2 major parts: o Morphology- concentrates on the smallest units of meaning (morphemes) in a language (ex: prefixes, suffixes, root words etc) o Syntax the aspect of grammar that specifies how words are combined into sentences (subject & order arrangement in a sentence) Pragmatics: rules for the use of appropriate language in particular contexts o Pragmatics directly concerns effective and appropriate communication o Ex: child learns certain forms of language are more appropriate than o/s may I borrow your crayon? vs. gimmie your crayon! Theories of Language Development: Most theorists today hold an interactionist view, the roles that both biological and environmental factors play in language development The learning view: Claims and Limitations: Traditional learning explanations use the principle of reinforcement to explain lang dev. (Skinner) parents or o/ caregivers selectively reinforce e/ of the childs babbling sounds that is most like adult speech Chapter Notes o By giving their greatest approval to the infants closest approximations to adult speech sounds, parents shape their childs verbal behaviour into what increasingly resembles adult speech (Bandura) child learns through imitation or Observational learning o Child picks up lang by what he hears o Then through reinforcement, and generalization the child learns when it is appropriate/ inappropriate to use particular words and phrases. Problems w/ learning theory: 1) # of stimulus-response connections that would be needed to explain lang is so enormous that a child would not acquire all of them in one lifetime 2) Naturalistic studies of parent-child interaction fail to support the learning theory account a. Ex: mom reinforces grammatically right and wrong statements 3) We cant predict the vast majority of language utterances from opportunities to observe specific utterances by o/s 4) Learning theory accounts have not explained the reg sequence in which lang develops a. Child learns active voice before passive voice 5) Learning explanation portrays the child as playing a passive role in lang dev, but evidence shows the child plays an active and creative role in discovering and applying the general rules of lang. Alternate explanation = Nativist View: language acquisition unfolds as a result of unique biological properties of the human organism The Nativist View: Claims and Limitations: (Chomsky) children are born w/ innate mental structure that guides their acquisition of lang o Language-acquisition device (LAD) Human child biologically predisposed to acquire human lang All lang of the species must display universal features (researchers have found that a set of common principles does underlie all human languages) Nativists point out that in many diff cultures normal children acquire lang quickly and learn it well Child can learn lang even when they receive fragmented/ incomplete envio input Nativist view is evidence that human beings learn language far more easily during a certain critical period of biological dev. o Critical period: time when a child is sensitive to a particular envio stimulus that does not have the same effect when encountered before or after o Critical period for lang infancy-puberty Arguments against critical period theory: there should be a decline @ the end of the critical period (which would be consistent w/ a learning mech being turned off @ a particular age and not with a decline after the end of critical period that would be related to increasing age) Chapter Notes English proficiency showed its sharpest decline in lang skills w/ age, a pattern inconsistent with the critical language hypothesis. People have cited the ability of animals to learn lang as evidence against the nativist viewpoint but conclusions are mixed. Problems with the Nativist theory: 1) Few theorists agree about the exact nature of the types of grammatical rules children learn 2) Language learning is a gradual process and is not completed as early as nativist accounts would predict. 3) The nativist perspective makes it very difficult to account for the many languages human beings speak throughout the world. 4) Nativist view gives social context of language little recognition 5) The theoretical assertion that language milestones are acquired in a universal stage sequence is not supported b empirical research from an interactionist approach The communicative context of language development (esp adult-child communication) plays significant role in this dev process The Interactionist View: Language is learned in the context of spoken language but assuming as well that humans are in some way biologically prepared for learning to speak. Childs own active role in lang dev complements the role played by socializing agents (ex: parents) Language development occurs in a rich behavioural and dev context in which children try to accomplish meaningful goals and engage in relationships with o/s When parents speak to children in a way that recognizes how much the children already know and understand, they increase their childrens chances of comprehending a novel message. Facilitating Childrens Language Development: (Bruner) environment provides language-learning child w/ a language-acquisition support system (LASS) o View emphasizes primary caregivers role as facilitators of language acquisition Techniques adults use to facilitate language acquisition: o Playing nonverbal games o Simplified speech o Elaborating and rewording childs own utterances to help them sharpen their communicative skills Playing Non-Verbal Games: Non-linguistic games such as peekaboo or pat a cake. Children learn some structural features of spoken language such as turn taking
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