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  1. A Topical Approach toLIFE-SPAN DEVELOPMENT Chapter Nine: Language Development John W. Santrock

  2. What is Language? • Defining language • Form of communication, whether spoken, written, or signed, based on system of symbols • Infinite generativity: ability to produce an endless number of meaningful sentences using a finite set of words and rules • Genie, Wild Boy of Aveyron: raise questions about determinants of language

  3. Language’s Rule Systems

  4. How Language Develops • Infancy • Babbling, gestures, and other vocalizations • Crying present at birth • Cooing: occurs at 2 to 4 months of age • Babbling: begins at about 6 months of age • Gestures: begin 8 to 12 months of age

  5. How Language Develops • Infants recognizing language sounds • “Citizens of the world” • Newborns recognize sound changes • Recognize own language sounds at 6 months • First words • Receptive exceeds spoken vocabulary • Timing of first word, vocabulary spurt varies

  6. How Language Develops • Infants recognizing language sounds • Asian child learns verbs earlier than child learning English • Referential and expressive styles • Overextension and underextension of words • Two-word utterances (18-24 months of age) • Telegraphic speech

  7. Variation in Language Milestones Fig. 9.3

  8. How Language Develops • Early childhood • Complex sentences at 2 to 3 years of age • Become more sensitive to language sounds; morphology rules, some overgeneralizations • Learn and apply syntax rules; auxillary-inversion rule takes longer

  9. How Language Develops • Early childhood • Vocabulary development is dramatic to age 6 • Fast mapping • Many hypotheses why this occurs • Give novel labels to novel objects • Use of mutual exclusivity • Benefit from hearing mature speakers

  10. How Language Develops • SES is linked to language development • Welfare parents talk less to their children • Provide less elaboration • Talk less about past events • Maternal language and literacy skills positively related to child’s vocabulary; not talkativeness • Frequent pointing, gestures • Use of diverse vocabulary

  11. Language Input and Young Children’s Vocabulary Development Fig. 9.6

  12. Language Input and Young Children’s Vocabulary Development Fig. 9.6

  13. How Language Develops • Advances in pragmatics • 6-year-old is better conversationalist • Young children start using extended discourse • Learn cultural rules, politeness, and become sensitive to adapting their speech to the setting • Age 4 to 5: can change speech style at will • More polite, formal when with adults

  14. How Language Develops • Middle and late childhood • New skills learned when entering school • Alphabetic principle • Learning diverse uses of language, sounds • Vocabulary and grammar • Process of categorizing becomes easier • From age 6 to 11 — 14,000 to 40,000 words • Improved logical reasoning, analytic skills

  15. How Language Develops • Middle and late childhood • Development of metalingusitic awareness • Knowledge about language; improves considerably during elementary school years • In adolescence: most know rules for appropriate language use • Child with large vocabulary learns to read easier • Vocabulary development linked to comprehension

  16. How Language Develops • Middle and late childhood • Whole language approach • Instruction to parallel child’s natural language • Learning; reading should be whole, meaningful • Basic-skills-and-phonics approach • Instruction should teach phonics and its basic rules • Reading should involve simplified materials

  17. How Language Develops • Middle and late childhood • Writing • 2- to 3-year-olds emerge from scribbling to begin printing letters • Most 4-year-olds can print their names; most 5-year-olds can reproduce letters, words • Reversed letters are normal • Adults should encourage early writing

  18. How Language Develops • Middle and late childhood • Years of practice needed for good writing • Linked to cognitive and language skills • Concerns about students’ writing competence • Grades 4 to 12: about 70% are low-achieving • High school grads: 50% not ready for college-level writing • Good writing results from good teaching efforts

  19. How Language Develops • Bilingualism and second language learning • Sensitive periods vary across different language systems • Native-like accent best learned before age 12 • Adults learn faster than children, attainment not as high as children’s • U.S. students lag behind students in developed countries in learning a second language • United States: many miss out on benefits of bilingualism

  20. How Language Develops • Adolescence • Increased use and understanding of • Sophisticated words • Analysis and abstract thinking • Metaphors: implied comparison of unlike things • Satire: use of irony, derision, or wit to expose folly or wickedness

  21. How Language Develops • Adolescence • Much better at organizing ideas and writing • Dialect: variety of language distinguished by vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation • Adolescent dialect with peers often uses jargon or slang • Usually used to indicate group membership

  22. How Language Develops • Adulthood and aging • Distinct personal linguistic style is part of identity • Vocabulary often continues to increase throughout adult years until late adulthood • Most common complaint: retrieving words, hard to hear in less than ideal listening conditions • Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon • Non-language factors may be cause of decline in language skills in older adults

  23. Biological and Environmental Influences • Biological influences • Evolution and the brain’s role in language • Human language acquired 100,000 years ago • Specific brain regions predisposed to language • Wernicke’s area: inbrain’s left hemisphere involved in language comprehension

  24. Biological and Environmental Influences • Biological influences • Broca’s area: in brain’s left frontal lobe involved in speech production • If damaged — fluent incomprehensible speech produced • Aphasia: language disorder resulting from brain damage; loss of ability to use words

  25. Broca’s and Wernicke’s Areas of the Brain Fig. 9.7

  26. Biological and Environmental Influences • Chomsky • Humans biologically prewired for language • Language acquisition device (LAD): biological endowment to detect features, rules of language • Theoretical, not physical part of brain • Evidence of uniformity in language milestones across languages and cultures

  27. Biological and Environmental Influences • Environmental influences • Behavioral View • Language is reinforced chain of responses; a complex skill that is learned • Criticisms • Cannot explain creation of novel sentences • Children learn syntax of native language without reinforcement • No longer considered a viable explanation

  28. Biological and Environmental Influences • Environmental influences • Interaction view • Children interested in their social world • Child-directed speech: higher pitch for attention • Parents, older children modify their speech • Other strategies: • Recasting, Expanding, Labeling

  29. Biological and Environmental Influences • An interactionist view of language • Language has strong biological foundations • Acquisition influenced by experiences; enriched environments have more positive effect • Worldwide: language milestones reached about the same time • Children acquire native language without explicit teaching; some without encouragement

  30. Biological and Environmental Influences • An interactionist view of language • Bruner: stresses roles of parents and teachers help construct language acquisition support system (LASS) • Sociocultural context is extremely important in understanding children’s language development • Resembles Vygotsky’s ZPD

  31. The End