Monday, 30 September 2013

Stages of child language acquisition

"The process of learning does not require only hearing and applying, but also forgetting and remembering again"
Dear bloggers,

I am here again. This post will be the continuation of the previous one. I will also post about the stages of child language acquisition. I also want to see your comments and your recommendations about this theme.

Stages of child language acquisition

From approximately 0 to 4 months, child sounds are limited to reflexive crying.This is their only way to express their feelings.This is their first production of what scholars call vegetative sounds.By roughly 4 to 6 months of age babies start to make many more sounds.Before speaking words, babies go through a period of babbling, in which they are practicing the sounds, intonations and rhythm of language. By 9 to 12 months the child`s babbling becomes more melodic.Intonation starts to sound more like adult patterns. By 10 to 12 months babies start to distinguish between the phonemes of his or her language and other languages.In this period, they also start to recognize words and even begin to understand their meaning.Children learn to pick out sound patterns that are repeated through normal adult conversation and eventually attach meaning to them.Baby talk or `motherese` is a natural, instinctive way that parents help this process along.By approximately 14 to 20 months of age, children begin with content words(these would include `mama` or `dada`or `book` or `car`).Of course, they usually do not sound like one would expect.`Book` may sound like `boo`.It is common at this stage to leave off consonants or consonant clusters from the beginning or end of a word.At this stage, a single word may represent an entire thought, i.e.`boo` may mean a `read me a book`. Between 18 to 24 months, spoken vocabulary starts to catch up.At this stage children begin to learn words by imitating.

From approximately 2 years of age, children begin to string two content words together to indicate location, i.e.`daddy gone`, possession `doggie mine` or action `mommy juice`. Multi-word sentences begin somewhere between ages 2 and 3.At this point they understand word order and context.Through practice they begin to master the morphology of language and start adding affixes, like `ing`, so `mommy walk` becomes `mommy walking`.

Learning Language

Children do not learn language simply through imitation and practice.Children`s early speech seems best explained in terms of a developing system.Second language learners pass through sequences of development.Many of these sequences are similar to those of children learning their first language.
Children`s earliest language is often called `telegraphic`.At this early age, children leave out many of the small words, like prepositions and articles.A child`s knowledge of the grammatical system is built up in predictable sequnces.Grammatical markers such as –ing of the present progressive or the –ed of the past tense are not acquired at the same time, but in sequence.The acquisition of certain grammatical features follows similar patterns in children in different environments. Child language is not viewed as an incorrect version of the adult system, but as a system in its own right.Not all errors made by second language learners could be explained in terms of first language transfer alone.
Second language learners` errors could be explained better in terms of learners` attempts to discover the structure of the language being learned rather than an attempt to transfer patterns of their first language.Many error types are common to both learners.Both make errors of subject-verb agreement(for example,  `a cowboy go` and `three robbers in mountain sees` by learner 1 and `Santa Clause ride` and `they plays` by learner 2). Such errors are clearly not due to first language interference but rather are `developmental` in nature.These are referred to as development errors which might very well be made by children acquiring English as their first language.

Development sequences

Research on language acquisition has revealed that there are important similarities between first language learners and second language learners.In both first and second language acquisition, there are sequences or `stages` in the development of particular structures.Developmental sequences are similar across learners from different backgrounds: what is learned early by one is learned early by others.Children`s language learning is partly tied to their cognitive development, that is, to their learning about relationships among people, events or objects around them. But among second language learners it is more remarkable that developmental sequences are so similar.Virtually every English sentence has one or more articles (`a` or `the`), but many learners have great difficulty using these forms correctly.Natural second language learners acquire grammatical morphemes in much the same way that first language learners do.
Although a review of all the `morpheme acquisition` studies that the learner`s first language has a more important influence on acquisition orders than some researchers would claim.Second language acquisition has revealed that learners pass through stages of acquisition which are very similar to those of first language learners.Perhaps more remarkable is the consistency in the acquisition of word order in questions.This development is not based on learning new meaning, but rather on learning different linguistic forms.Second language learners learn to form questions in a sequence of development which is similar in most respects to first language question development.Learners who receive grammar-based instruction still pass through the
same development sequences and make the same types of errors as those who acquire language in natural settings.

I hope that some of you will find this rewarding for your work and studies. See you soon with new posts.

Kind regards,


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