Child Language Acquisition


Child Language Acquisition

Halliday's functions of language

Representational - Language used to exchange information. (got new shoes, nan)

Heuristic - Language used to learn and explore the environment. (what's that?)

Interactional - Language used to develop social relationships and ease the process of interaction. (I love you)

Imaginative - Language used to explore the imagination. (we're going to the moon today)

Regulatory - Language used to influence the behaviour of others. (don't do that)

Personal - Language used to express the personal preferences and identity of the speaker. (me like)

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Child Language Acquisition

Catherine Snow - Child Directed Speech

  • Repetition
  • Exaggerated pausing
  • Expansions
  • Recasting
  • Higher pitch/ wider pitch
  • Concrete nouns
  • Intonation
  • Own words
  • Tag questions
  • Imperatives
  • Fewer verbs and adjectives
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Child Language Acquisition


Language Acquisition Device (LAD)

We are born with this device and we need this device to be able to learn language.

Language is innate

A child is born with the ability to be able to learn and understand language. With the LAD, a child can understand the structures and patterns of language.

Universal grammar - Similarities between languages

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Child Language Acquisition

Patricia Kuhl

Citizens of the world

Before 12 months old, children are free to learn any language that there is. 

Culture bound listeners 

After 12 months, language is determined by a number of factors.

  • Culture
  • Where you live
  • The language your parents speak
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Child Language Acquisition


Language is a behaviour

Behaviours must be reinforced

Positive and negative reinforcement

Children learn by praise, punishment and recasting/ correction.

Positive reinforcement - increasing a behaviour to receive a reward

Negative reinforcement - increasing a behaviour to avoid an unpleasant situation.

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