Print Email Download Reference This Send to Kindle Reddit This
submit to reddit

Language Acquisition In Early Childhood English Language Essay

Language is an important communication system that can be used to influence, teach and express affection. Babies everywhere (even those who are deaf) start babbling at about the same age and produce a similar range of early sounds. But for babbling to develop further, infants must be able to hear human speech. A baby with impaired hearing will be greatly delayed in babbling and produce a reduced range of sounds. And a deaf infant not exposed to sign language will not babble at all (Oller, 2000).

Language development begins at birth. Indeed, some developmentalists argue that it begins before birth. The first cry, the first coo, the first “da-da” and “mama,” the first words…all are auditory proof that children are participating in the process of language development. Language is housed in the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex. Within it are two important language related structures. Broca’s area, located in the left frontal lobe, supports grammatical processing and language production. Wernicke’s area, located in the left temporal lobe, plays a role in comprehending word meaning. These language areas are especially active from late infancy through the preschool years, when language development flourishes. (Thompson et al., 2000b). Cerebral cortex is the brain’s outer most layer; it has been estimated that an average cerebral cortex is capable of a million billion connections. Unlike animals, the human cortex has a large area that that are not prewired. These uncommitted areas provide infants with the capacity to develop brain circuits depending upon the experiences they encounter as they develop. Different parts of the cerebral cortex continue to develop at different times throughout infancy and well into the childhood and adolescence.

Parents are forces that encourage children to participate in language development. We cannot overestimate the role parents play in the language development of their children. Regardless of the theory of language development one chooses to adopt as his or her own, the fact remains that children develop language in predictable sequences, and they don’t wait for us to tell them what theory to follow in their language development. They are very pragmatic and develop language regardless of our beliefs.

Some theorists believe that humans are innately endowed with the ability to produce language. Noam Chomsky hypothesizes that all children possess a structure or mechanism called a language acquisition device (LAD), which permits them to acquire language. The young child’s LAD uses all the language sounds heard to process many grammatical sentences, even sentences never heard before. The child hears a particular language and processes it to form grammatical rules. Eric Lenneberg studied innate language acquisition in considerable detail in many different kinds of children, including the deaf. According to Lenneberg, All the evidence suggests that the capacities for speech production and related aspects of language acquisition develop according to built-in biological schedules. They appear when the time is ripe and not until then,

Newborns can distinguish a few sound patterns, as well as nearly all speech sounds. They are especially responsive to high-pitched expressive voices, their own mother’s voice, and speech in their native language and will listen longer to human speech than to structurally similar non speech sounds. Before babies say their first word, they make impressive progress toward understanding and speaking their native tongue. They listen attentively to human speech, and they make speech like sounds. As adults, we can hardly help but respond. (Laura.2007).

The sounds babies produce are called phonemes. Babies progress from producing throaty vowel sounds, ‘coos’. Babies then combine a consonant with a vowel sound. By about 6 months, babies duplicate these combinations to produce those phonemic combinations that prove such a delight to parents: ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ or ‘dada’. Since toddlers often have only two or three words to express themselves, caregivers need to be aware of what speech categories toddlers are able to use. Toddlers omit the little functional words that adult speech requires, such as ‘a’ or ‘the’, so their talk is often called ‘telegraphic speech’. Yet basic grammatical categories of topic and comment and modifier are present, even in these early toddler phrases. Despite the short ‘telegraphic speech’ that toddlers use, they are quite sensitive to violations of grammar rules. (Honig, 2001)

When young children first learn words, they sometimes apply them too narrowly, resulting in an error called under-extension. A common error for overextension is applying a word to a wider collection of objects and events than is appropriate. For example, a toddler uses “car” for buses, trains, trucks, and fire engines. Toddlers’ overextensions reflect their sensitivity to categories. They apply a new word to a group of similar experiences (“dog” for furry, four-legged animals; “open” for opening a door, peeling fruit, and untying shoelaces). This suggests that children sometimes overextend deliberately because they have difficulty recalling or have not acquired a suitable word. And when a word is hard to pronounce, toddlers are likely to substitute a related one they can say. As vocabulary and pronunciation improve, overextensions disappear. (Laura. 2007) Toddlers build their vocabularies so quickly during the second year, they improve in the ability to categorize experience, recall words, and pick up others’ social cues to meaning such as eye gaze, pointing, and handling objects. Furthermore, as toddlers’ experiences broaden, they have a wider range of interesting objects and events to label. For example, children approaching age 2 more often mention places to go (“park,”“store”).And as they construct a clearer self-image, they add more words that refer to themselves (“me,”“mine,”“Katy”) and to their own and others’ bodies and clothing (“eyes,”“mouth,”“jacket”. (Laura. 2007)

Although infants produce one word at a time, they are learning 8–11 words each month. By the time toddlers have a vocabulary between 50 and 100 words, a ‘vocabulary spurt’ occurs. Toddlers often demonstrate this explosive period of vocabulary growth. This vocabulary spurt shows a wide window of occurrence: Some children show this spurt at 14 months and some not until 2.5 years. Sometimes toddlers produce nine new words per day.

Most people do not believe parents have to teach children ‘oral language’. After all, children entering kindergarten have approximately 14,000 words in their vocabularies. In addition, some theorists, such as Chomsky (1965), believe that language is hard-wired in the brain. And indeed, children in every culture learn to speak, many times quite without adult tuition. It is impressive that children raised in a variety of physical environments learn the relationship of verbal expressions to meanings

Print Email Download Reference This Send to Kindle Reddit This

Share This Essay

To share this essay on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ just click on the buttons below:

Request Removal

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Request the removal of this essay.


More from UK Essays