First Language Acquisition

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Information about First Language Acquisition
Education

Published on November 18, 2008

Author: nahir

Source: slideshare.net

First Language Acquisition Sources: Brown Lightbown & Spada NAM/nam

Theories of L1 Acquisition Behaviorism “Say what I say” Innatism “It’s all in your mind” Interactionism “A little help from my friends”

Behaviorism

“Say what I say”

Innatism

“It’s all in your mind”

Interactionism

“A little help from my friends”

Behaviorism Skinner (1957). People’s behaviors are directly observable, rather than the mental systems underlying these behaviors. Children are born with a mind that is like a blank state. Language -> verbal behavior Children learn language through: I _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tabula rasa Stimulus  Response Conditioning Reinforcement Observation : Is this enough to explain how human beings learn a language?

Skinner (1957).

People’s behaviors are directly observable, rather than the mental systems underlying these behaviors. Children are born with a mind that is like a blank state.

Language -> verbal behavior

Children learn language through: I _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tabula rasa

Stimulus  Response

Conditioning

Reinforcement

Observation :

Is this enough to explain how human beings learn a language?

Innatism Criticism on Behaviorism for LA Poverty of the stimulus -> we end up knowing far more about language than is exemplified in the language we hear around us. Problems with Input -> Slips of the tongue, false starts, ungrammatical and incomplete sentences, the data children are exposed to is impoverished LA is a creative process . Children are not given explicit information about the rules: No instruction or correction. Children are equipped with an innate template or blueprint for language -> Universal Grammar (UG) . Children go through similar universal LA stages regardless of cultural and social circumstances.

Criticism on Behaviorism for LA

Poverty of the stimulus -> we end up knowing far more about language than is exemplified in the language we hear around us.

Problems with Input -> Slips of the tongue, false starts, ungrammatical and incomplete sentences, the data children are exposed to is impoverished

LA is a creative process . Children are not given explicit information about the rules:

No instruction or correction.

Children are equipped with an innate template or blueprint for language -> Universal Grammar (UG) .

Children go through similar universal LA stages regardless of cultural and social circumstances.

Children construct rules which are structure dependent -> children do create phrase structures, and the rules they acquire are sensitive to this structure. Example : What accounts for the difference between “and” and “with” in: Jill ate bagels and cream Jack went up the hill with Jill. and their corresponding possible wh. Questions: What did Jill eat bagels with _________________? Who did Jack go up the hill with______________?

Children construct rules which are structure dependent -> children do create phrase structures, and the rules they acquire are sensitive to this structure.

Example : What accounts for the difference between “and” and “with” in:

Jill ate bagels and cream

Jack went up the hill with Jill.

and their corresponding possible wh. Questions:

What did Jill eat bagels with _________________?

Who did Jack go up the hill with______________?

Bagels and cream -> coordinate NP (2 NP conjoined with and ) Bagels with cream -> NP composed of an NP followed by a PP (NP + PP) Children never violate a coordinate structure constraint like: *Who did Jack and ________ go up the hill? *What did Jill eat bagels and ___________?

The innateness hypothesis : An answer to the logical problem of language acquisition : What accounts for the easy, rapidity and uniformity of language acquisition in the face of impoverished data? Children acquire a complex grammar quickly and easily without any particular help beyond exposure to the language, they do not start from scratch. The child constructs his grammar according to an innate blueprint (UG) All children proceed through similar development stages.

The innateness hypothesis :

An answer to the logical problem of language acquisition :

What accounts for the easy, rapidity and uniformity of language acquisition in the face of impoverished data?

Children acquire a complex grammar quickly and easily without any particular help beyond exposure to the language, they do not start from scratch.

The child constructs his grammar according to an innate blueprint (UG)

All children proceed through similar development stages.

Characteristics Universal Grammar (+UG)) Principles intact (UG) Parameters (For specific language) yet unset Acquisition based on data input Learning procedure (LAD) Hypothesis testing Parameter setting

Universal Grammar (+UG))

Principles intact (UG)

Parameters (For specific language) yet unset

Acquisition based on data input

Learning procedure (LAD)

Hypothesis testing

Parameter setting

Markedness differential Hypothesis Linguistic rules can be either part of the : “ Core Grammar” (UG) .- Follow general principles of language .- Considered to be less complex .- Unmarked “ Periphery” .- Specific to each language .- Considered to be more complex .- Marked

Linguistic rules can be either part of the :

“ Core Grammar” (UG)

.- Follow general principles of language

.- Considered to be less complex

.- Unmarked

“ Periphery”

.- Specific to each language

.- Considered to be more complex

.- Marked

Language Acquisition Device (LAD) Universal Grammar (UG) Systematic; rule-governed acquisition Creative construction “Pivot” grammar Critical Period Hypothesis “ Victor” and “Genie”

Language Acquisition Device (LAD)

Universal Grammar (UG)

Systematic; rule-governed acquisition

Creative construction

“Pivot” grammar

Critical Period Hypothesis

“ Victor” and “Genie”

Interactionists PIAGET (1969): Language is not based on a separate ‘module of the mind’. it can be explained in terms of learning in general: “ language acquisition is similar to the acquisition of other skills or knowledge” Language is a number of symbol systems which are developed in childhood. Language serves children to represent the knowledge acquired through physical interaction with the environment. Social interaction and environment. Cognitive development and use of the language. Functions of language through interaction Child-directed speech: Jim’s case

PIAGET (1969):

Language is not based on a separate ‘module of the mind’.

it can be explained in terms of learning in general:

“ language acquisition is similar to the acquisition of other skills or knowledge”

Language is a number of symbol systems which are developed in childhood. Language serves children to represent the knowledge acquired through physical interaction with the environment.

Social interaction and environment.

Cognitive development and use of the language.

Functions of language through interaction

Child-directed speech: Jim’s case

VYGOTSKY (1978): Importance of conversations which children have with adults and with other children These conversations constitute the origins of both language and thought. Thought is essentially internalized speech, and speech emerges in social interaction. More recently, constructivists have focused their research on the social meaning of language. “ Function are the meaningful, interactive purposes, within a social (pragmatic) context, that we accomplish with forms.” (Brown 2000: 28). They criticized the innatists’ generative rules as being abstract, formal, explicit and only concerned with the forms of language, ignoring the functions of meaning within social interaction (pragmatics).

VYGOTSKY (1978):

Importance of conversations which children have with adults and with other children

These conversations constitute the origins of both language and thought.

Thought is essentially internalized speech, and speech emerges in social interaction.

More recently, constructivists have focused their research on the social meaning of language.

“ Function are the meaningful, interactive purposes, within a social (pragmatic) context, that we accomplish with forms.” (Brown 2000: 28).

They criticized the innatists’ generative rules as being abstract, formal, explicit and only concerned with the forms of language, ignoring the functions of meaning within social interaction (pragmatics).

BLOOM (1971): Criticized innatists’ pivot grammars: the relationship between a pivot word and an open word was not always of the same nature. In the utterance: “Mommy sock”, she found, at least, three relations: agent-action (Mommy is putting the sock on) agent-object (Mommy sees the sock) possessor-possessed (Mommy’s sock). Bloom’s conclusion: Children learn underlying structures, and not superficial word order.

BLOOM (1971):

Criticized innatists’ pivot grammars: the relationship between a pivot word and an open word was not always of the same nature.

In the utterance: “Mommy sock”, she found, at least, three relations:

agent-action (Mommy is putting the sock on)

agent-object (Mommy sees the sock)

possessor-possessed (Mommy’s sock).

Bloom’s conclusion: Children learn underlying structures, and not superficial word order.

Issues in L1 Acquisition: Universals Principles Parameters Language and thought Imitation Practice Input/discourse

Universals

Principles

Parameters

Language and thought

Imitation

Practice

Input/discourse

That's it!

Pivot grammar n Now-discarded theory of grammatical development in L1A. Children were said to develop two major grammatical classes of words: 1.- pivot class: small group of words attached to other words, e.g. on, allgone, more 2.- “open class” (e.g. shoe, milk) to which pivot words were attached. The child’s early grammar was thought to be a set of rules which determined how the two classes of words could be combined to produce utterances such as allgonemilk, shoe on. Longman Dictionary of Linguistics, Applied Linguistics and ELT .

Pivot grammar n

Now-discarded theory of grammatical development in L1A. Children were said to develop two major grammatical classes of words:

1.- pivot class: small group of words attached to other words, e.g. on, allgone, more

2.- “open class” (e.g. shoe, milk) to which pivot words were attached.

The child’s early grammar was thought to be a set of rules which determined how the two classes of words could be combined to produce utterances such as allgonemilk, shoe on.

Longman Dictionary of Linguistics, Applied Linguistics and ELT .

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