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Language Development in Young Children


Language Development in Young Children Many researchers see code mixing as a sign of bilingual proficiency. For example, bilingual children adjust the amount of code ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Language Development in Young Children

  • Language Development in Young Children

  • To examine different theories of first language
  • To explain the importance of interactions and
    input in the development of first language(s).
  • To identify the steps a young child goes through
    in acquiring his/her first language(s).
  • To analyze how interactions and input are also
    important in second language acquisition.
  • To identify where different emotions can affect a
    persons sequential language acquisition and to
    propose ways to work with them.

The Story of My Name
  • Pick a partner and decide who will speak first
    and second
  • First speaker tells the story of his/her name for
    3 minutes.
  • Second speaker speaks 3 minutes.
  • Large group
  • Briefly introduce your partner and why their
    name is important to them.
  • Introduce where you work and where you are from.

The Story of My Name
  • Who chose your name?
  • When was it chosen?
  • Were any other names considered?
  • Are there any other people in your family with
    the same name?
  • Do you know anyone else with the same name? Do
    you share your name with any famous people? Is
    your name unique?
  • What are your feelings concerning sharing (or not
    sharing) a name with someone else?
  • Have you always been called the same name? What
    other names have you been called? By whom? When?
  • What are your feelings about your name? Have they
    changed through time? In what ways?

The Story of My Name
  • Questions
  • How was listening for you?
  • How was speaking for you?
  • What did learn about names?
  • Extension Activities with Names
  • Children write books about names interviewing
    family members
  • Parents write books about their childrens names
  • Write a Book About Naming Traditions

What is language?
  • Language is uniquely human
  • Language is linked to cognition
  • Language is natural
  • Language is culturally bound
  • Language has many varieties and is constantly

What is language?
  • Language has structure
  • Phonology (sounds)
  • Morphology (structure of words)
  • Syntax (structure of sentences)
  • Semantics (structure of meaning)
  • Pragmatics (rules and conventions of language)

How do we learn language?
  • Behaviorists believe that children learn by
    imitating what they have heard and that parental
    modeling and reinforcement are the major
    promoters of language acquisition.
  • Nativists believe that innate, biological
    mechanisms are responsible for language
    acquisition (Chomsky, 1976 language acquisition
    device) and that children just naturally acquire
    language with minor feedback from the social

How do we learn language?
  • Interactionists acknowledge both the childs role
    and that of the caretaker in the social
    environment and consider the communication in
    social interactions to be essential to language
    acquisition. The process of language acquisition
    is both a personal and social invention. Parents,
    teachers, and others shape its development by the
    way they respond to the language learner.
  • We speak differently to young children than to
    other adults. We adapt our language.

  • Social constructivism Vygotsky viewed cognitive
    development as the result of dialogue and that
    the main purpose of language is social.
  • We learn language through social processes.

The Importance of Interactions
  • We know that interactions are important in all
    development including early language development.
  • Video Serve and Return Interaction Shape Brain
    Circuitry at
  • http//

The Importance of Interactions
  • Infants begin life with brain systems that allow
    them to acquire any and all languages to which
    they are exposed.
  • The ability to make different sounds are pruned
    from their brains if they are not heard and
    supported in social interactions.
  • The language adults use with infants and very
    young children known as motherese, and is an
    example of interactionism and the value of
    social processes in language development.

The Importance of Interactions
  • Video Watch the video, The Pyramid of Speech and
    Language Development that shows the building
    blocks of communication. https//
  • Discussion Question How do very early
    interactions that infants have with caregivers
    build the foundation for speech development?

The Importance of Interactions
  • A child needs a strong foundation to get to the
    point where they are talking and using accurate
    speech in their first language(s).

Language as a Developmental Process
  • Babbling
  • One word
  • Two words
  • Short sentences
  • The Four Stages in Acquiring Language
  • Language Acquisition 1 https//

Language as a Developmental Process
  • At approximately two years of age, childrens
    ability to use language suddenly increases
    rapidly. The size of their vocabulary grows and
    children begin to string words together in short
  • Children are acquiring 6 to 10 words a day about
    the time they are entering preschool. They are
    also broadening their understanding of the
    meanings of the words they already know.

Language as a Developmental Process
  • Children also begin to acquire the more
    complicated grammar forms during this period.
    Their understanding of grammatical rules,
    however, can result in creative mistakes. These
    mistakes demonstrate that they notice consistent
    patterns in language and apply them to the
    language system, as they understand them.

Language as a Developmental Process
  • By the time children enter preschool, they have
    become experienced talkers and are engaged in an
    extended oral language development. This is
    because their caregivers have been encouraging
    them to extend their statements through talking
    with them. Children also augment their own
    language experiences by listening to others
    conversations in which they are not active

Simultaneous and Sequential Bilingualism
  • Simultaneous acquisition of two languages occurs
    when children are exposed to both languages from
    a very early age, sometimes as a result of each
    parent speaking a separate language with the
    child or both parents speaking one language and a
    caregiver speaking another language with the
  • If a child learns two languages simultaneously,
    and if the two languages are developed equally
    during childhood, then the language development
    process is expected to be the same in both
    languages. (Tabors, 2008)

Simultaneous and Sequential Bilingualism
  • Sequential acquisition occurs when a child begins
    to learn a second language after the first
    language is at least partly established, for
    example when a young child enters a preschool
    setting in which her home language is not the
    language used in the classroom.

Simultaneous and Sequential Bilingualism
  • Sequential language acquisition however is
  • Children already have some knowledge of how
    language works so they are not learning how
    language works in general but how the new
    language works and is different from the first

Simultaneous and Sequential Bilingualism
  •  The acquisition of the second language can take
    place at any age.
  • The acquisition of the second language may be
    more dependent on individual characteristics such
    as aptitude, personality (whether social or not),
    and psychological factors such as wanting to be
    like others.

Krashens Hypothesis
  • Stephen Krashen (1982) presented several
    hypothesis that today help us understand how
    children and adults learn new languages
  • The Acquisition versus Learning Hypothesis. It
    states that new languages are actually best
    acquired in the same way that children acquire
    their first language(s) and not learned by formal
    teaching. Acquisition requires meaningful
    interactions in the new language in natural
    communication in which native speakers are
    focused on communication and not on form.

Krashens Hypothesis
  • The Input Hypothesis Learning to speak the new
    language requires meaningful input that is at the
    optimal level. It suggests that learners acquire
    language by intaking and understanding language
    that is a little beyond their current level of
    competence or input 1.
  • zone of proximal development
  • scaffolds where possible.

Krashens Hypothesis
  • The Affective Filter Hypothesis Emotions such
    as anxiety can directly interfere or assist with
    in the learning of new language. Some emotions
    can create a kind of filter that blocks the
    learners ability to learn and use new words or
    grammatical structures because it can block the
    input that is needed.

Krashens Hypothesis
  • The three main things that can make the affective
    filters openings larger and allow more input in
    the new language to reach the leaner include that
    the learner have
  • high motivation to learn the language,
  • have low anxiety levels,
  • high self-confidence in ability.

Krashens Hypothesis
  • Discussion Give personal examples of what helped
    you or did not help you learn a new language by
  • Increasing the level and quality of input you
    received in the new language.
  • Acquiring it in a natural way instead of learning
    new vocabulary and grammar rules.
  • Lowering or increasing your affective filter by
    lowering or increasing your anxiety, increasing
    or lowering your self-confidence, or increasing
    or lowering your motivation to learn a new

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • 1. Home language use phase There may be a
    period of time when children still use their
    first language. This is because they do not yet
    understand that there is difference in the 2
  • 2. The silent or nonverbal period When children
    discover that their home language does not work
    in the new setting, they enter into a nonverbal
    period as they collect information about the new
    language and perhaps spend some time in sound
    experimentation. In an official-language
    classroom, this means that the children will
    enter a period when they do not talk at all.

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • 3. Going public with the new language This is
    when children begin to use individual words and
    phrases that they have learned.
  • Verbalizations such as what is that?, or
    reciting the names of colors, the alphabet,
    numbers, etc. or formulaic phrases in situations
    in which others have been observed to use them
    such as yes, no, hello, goodbye, O.K., look, be
    careful, etc.

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • 4. Productive Language Use in the New Language
    This is when children can begin building their
    own sentences, not just continuing to repeat
    formulaic phrases or names for people and things.
    During this process the children must analyze the
    language being used around them and begin to make
    guesses about how the language is constructed.
    Typically, they use everything they already know
    about their new language, and, not surprisingly,
    make many mistakes as they work their way through
    the process of acquiring the more complicated
    aspects of second language.

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • For older children and adults the process is
    similar and looks like (Northwest Regional
    Educational Laboratory, 2003)
  • Silent/receptive or preproduction stage This
    stage can last from 10 hours to six months.
    Students often have up to 500 receptive words
    (words they understand but may not be comfortable
    using) and can understand new words that are made
    comprehensible to them. This stage often involves
    a silent period during which students may not
    speak but can respond using a variety of
    strategies, including pointing to an object,
    picture, or person performing an act, such as
    standing up or closing a door gesturing or
    nodding or responding with a simple yes or

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • Early production stage The early production
    stage can last an additional six months after the
    initial stage. Students have usually developed
    close to 1,000 receptive/active words (words they
    are able to understand and use). During this
    stage, students can usually speak in one- or
    two-word phrases and can demonstrate
    comprehension of new material by giving short
    answers to simple yes/no, either/or, or
    who/what/where questions.
  • Speech emergence stage This stage can last up to
    another year. Students have usually developed
    approximately 3,000 words and can use short
    phrases and simple sentences to communicate.
    Students begin to use dialogue and can ask simple
    questions, such as May I go to the restroom?
    and are also able to answer simple questions.
    Students may produce longer sentences but often
    with grammatical errors that can interfere with
    their communication.

Developmental Phases in Acquiring Second Language
  • Intermediate language proficiency stage
    Individuals may need up to another year to reach
    intermediate proficiency after speech emergence.
    Students will have typically developed close to
    6,000 words and can now make complex statements,
    state opinions, ask for clarification, share
    thoughts, and speak at greater length.
  • Advanced language proficiency stage Gaining
    advanced proficiency in a second language can
    typically take from five to seven years. By this
    stage students have developed some specialized
    content-area vocabulary and can participate fully
    in grade-level classroom activities if given
    occasional extra support.
  • Reflection Question What phase of the process in
    acquiring a language that is not your first
    language are you? What would help you progress to
    the next level?

Misconceptions on language development
  • True or False
  • Bilingualism causes language delay.

Misconceptions on language development
  • Bilingualism causes language delay.
  • FALSE. While a bilingual childs vocabulary in
    each individual language may be smaller than
    average, his total vocabulary (from both
    languages) will be at least the same size as a
    monolingual child. Bilingual children may say
    their first words slightly later than monolingual
    children, but still within the normal age range
    (between 8-15 months). And when bilingual
    children start to produce short sentences, they
    develop grammar along the same patterns and
    timelines as children learning one language. If a
    bilingual child demonstrates significant delays
    in language milestones, they could have a
    language disorder and should be seen by a speech
    language pathologist.

Misconceptions on language development
  • True or False
  • When children mix their languages it means that
    they are confused and having trouble becoming

Misconceptions on language development
  • When children mix their languages it means that
    they are confused and having trouble becoming
  • FALSE. When children use both languages within
    the same sentence or conversation, it is known as
    code mixing or code switching. Parents
    sometimes worry that this mixing is a sign of
    language delay or confusion. However, code
    mixing is a natural part of bilingualism.
    Proficient adult bilinguals code mix when they
    converse with other bilinguals, and it should be
    expected that bilingual children will code-mix
    when speaking with other bilinguals. 

Misconceptions on language development
  • True or False
  • A person is not truly bilingual unless he is
    equally proficient in both languages.

Misconceptions on language development
  • A person is not truly bilingual unless he is
    equally proficient in both languages.
  • FALSE. It is rare to find an individual who is
    equally proficient in both languages. Most
    bilinguals have a dominant language, a language
    of greater proficiency. The dominant language is
    often influenced by the majority language of the
    society in which the individual lives. An
    individuals dominant language can change with
    age, circumstance, education, social network,
    employment, and many other factors. 

Misconceptions on language development
  • True or False
  • An individual must learn a second language as a
    young child in order to become bilingual. 

Misconceptions on language development
  • An individual must learn a second language as a
    young child in order to become bilingual. 
  • FALSE. There is a Critical Period theory that
    suggests that there is a window of time (early
    childhood) during which a second language is most
    easily learned. This theory has led many people
    to believe that it is better to learn a second
    language as a young child. Young children have
    been found to achieve better native-like
    pronunciation than older children or adult second
    language learners. And they seem to achieve
    better long-term grammatical skills than older

Misconceptions on language development
  • True or False
  • If a family wants their child to speak the
    majority language, they should stop speaking
    their home language with their child.

Misconceptions on language development
  • If you want your child to speak the majority
    language, you should stop speaking your home
    language with your child.
  • FALSE. Some parents attempt to speak the majority
    language to their child because they want their
    child to learn that language, even if they
    themselves are not fluent in the majority
    language. This can mean that conversations and
    interactions do not feel natural or comfortable
    between parent and child. There is no evidence
    that frequent use of the second language in the
    home is essential for a child to learn a second
    language. Furthermore, without knowledge of a
    familys home language, a child can become
    isolated from family members who only speak the
    home language. Research shows that children who
    have a strong foundation in their home language
    more easily learn a second language. Children are
    also at great risk of losing their home language
    if it is not supported continually at home.