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Title: Communicating in English Talk, Text, Technolgy


1
Communicating in EnglishTalk, Text, Technolgy
  • Growing up with EnglishChapter 3

2
Introduction
  • The focus of this section is
  • - how English speaking children learn to
    make sense of the English language as a system.
  • - how they learn to make meaning in
    English ?
  • - what extra processes are involved in
    learning to crack the code of written lang ?
  • - Whether writing and spelling systems
    of English pose any challenges to learners ?

3
  • Learning to talk in English
  • Crystal outlines the knowledge that children need
    to acquire in order to speak English (A 3.1)
  • 20 vowels 24 consonants
  • Over 300 ways of combining these
  • An active vocab of 50000 words
  • A thousand aspects of grammatical construction
  • Several hundred ways of using prosodic features
  • A large number of rules through which sentences
    can be combined into spoken discourse
  • A large number of conventions governing the ways
    in which varieties of English differ
  • A large number of strategies governing the ways
    in which all the above rules can be bent or
    broken to achieve special effects.

4
  • How infants Communicate ?
  • Chomsky(1980) holds a nativist position that
    language is an innate human ability which is
    biologically determined and follows a predictable
    developmental path.
  • There is a critical period for language
    acquisition
  • linguistically deprived children neither
    spontaneously develop language in isolation nor
    go on to develop normal language competence
    beyond a certain stage of maturation.
  • It has been observed that before and after
    birth, babies are primed even within the womb to
    attend to the particular melody of language that
    surrounds them. (A 3.2)

5
  • Anthropologists Elinor and Bambi(1979)argue that
    children begin by learning the meaning of speech
    acts and only gradually learn the lang that
    corresponds to these in the community around
    them.
  • Gordon Wells (1985) speak of conversation
    without words b/w infants and caregivers.
  • Learning to speak is initially a matter of
    learning the rules of social behaviour and
    meaning making and only later, a matter of
    learning grammatical rules of language.
  • A babys first experience of lang is in dialogue
    with the caregiver.
  • Adults tend to use a simplified speech style with
    exaggerated intonation, known as Child-directed
    speech (CDS) or baby talk (A 3.3 3.4)

6
  • CDS has three useful functions in learning
    English
  • 1.It may help children attune their ear to the
    characteristic strong-weak stress pattern of
    English words by retaining this pattern in
    diminutives like (mummy, daddy).
  • 2. By use of exaggerated stress at the sentence
    level, CDS may serve to direct the childs
    attention to the key elements (the content words)
    in an utterance.
  • 3. By means of exaggerated intonation patterns
    involving rising or falling pitch, CDS may also
    help to facilitate turn taking in conversation by
    emphasising question-and-answer exchanges and
    other adjacency pairs.
  • Cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that
    CDS is by no means essential to language
    acquisition since children are able to acquire
    language in cultures where CDS is not practised.

7
  • How children learn to talk has a long history.
  • Prior to 1960s the belief was that children learn
    to speak by imitation of the language around
    them.
  • But Chomsky insisted on the role of instinct.
  • More recent research has taken a step back in the
    direction of imitation, any language is probably
    stored as a set of rules, a large element of
    habit formation.
  • children learn much of their early language in
    chunks as part of interactional routines with
    those around them.

8
  • Cognitive perspectives on learning to talk
  • Studies reveal the mental processes within
    childrens mind, focusing on the relationship
    between the outward form of their utterances
    (esp. grammar vocabulary) and what these reveal
    about their developing understanding of language
    and the world.
  • A cognitive perspective investigates what is
    common to all normally developing children,
    rather than what makes each child different.

9
  • Grammatical development
  • Chomsky argues, there are universal principles
    (such as noun and verb) that are common to the
    grammars of all human languages, but the
    parameters of variation (such as word order or
    morphology) need to be set differently according
    to the language to which children are exposed.
  • English-speaking children roughly between the age
    of 18 months - 2 years start to produce
    two-word mini sentences (want Teddy) expressing
    simple semantic relations such as actions or
    belonging. This kind of emergent grammar is
    called telegraphic language.

10
  • Function words like articles, prepositions,
    auxiliary verbs, and morphological inflections
    are normally acquired late.
  • Once grammatical inflections start to appear, it
    is observed that normally developing
    English-speaking children appear to move
    backwards in their learning and make more
    mistakes. This is because they gradually replace
    simple imitation (she held two mice) by the
    application of a set of rules (she hold-ed two
    mouse-s).

11
  • Drawing on Chomskys ideas, a distinction is
    drawn between the childs active linguistic
    performance (the process of performing a task)
    and their underlying knowledge of the language
    system or linguistic competence (the ability to
    do something well).
  • Vocabulary development
  • It is observed that young children tend to
    over-extended the meanings of words, as they try
    to maximise their limited vocabulary and develop
    a sense of conceptual boundaries in English.
  • Psycholinguists Villiers and Villiers classify
    some typical over-extensions (the act of making
    something longer or larger) according to the
    apparent grounds of similarity. For example
    (movement- shape- size- sound- texture-
    function).

12
  • Bilingual children
  • Many children learn English quite naturally,
    while others acquire it as a second language.
    Research with the latter group support to the
    idea that there may be a natural order of
    acquisition of grammatical structures within
    English, regardless of the childs first
    language.
  • But how do bilingual children come to know what
    is English and what is not? Research with infants
    growing up bilingual suggests that they tend
    first to distinguish the different sound system
    of their languages, followed by the vocabularies
    and then the grammars.

13
  • Social perspectives on learning to talk
  • Social perspectives focus on the role of language
    in social context, with the emphasis on
    communicative function.
  • It emphasises the pragmatics of language use,
    focusing on how children learn to take part in
    conversation with others, and how they use
    language to perform particular speech acts and to
    express social identity.
  • Meaning making Brown identified eight most basic
    semantic relations expressed by children at the
    two-word stage, including Agent-Action (as in
    daddy hit), Action-Object (hit ball), and Agent-
    Object (daddy ball)

14
  • Formulaic language
  • Children are able to deduce the meaning of whole
    phrases from the communicative context, without
    necessarily analysing them into their component
    parts. This is called formulaic language.
  • Whereas cognitive approaches to language learning
    focus on childrens linguistic competence, the
    focus of social approaches is on their
    communicative competence, a term generally
    attributed to linguist Hymes A normal child
    acquires knowledge of sentences, not only as
    grammatical, but also as appropriate

15
  • Learning to read and write in English
  • In an environment of written texts, children will
    use many strategies to work out what adults are
    doing with magazines, pens, computers and all the
    other things associated with literacy, and will
    attempt to join the adult literate world in
    different ways. These first discoveries of
    reading and writing have been described as
    emergent literacy

16
Cognitive perspectives on learning to read and
write
  • English features in the environment will
    demonstrate the diversity of visual symbols which
    confront children. There may be any combination
    of the following
  • Street signs, shop names . (English)
  • A similar array of signage using other scripts
    (Chinese )
  • Some rather arbitrary abbreviations (Co., Ltd.)
  • Logographs, also known as logograms (where a
    symbol stands for a whole word), as H for
    hospital, the heart shape means love
  • Pictographs, also known as pictograms (where an
    image denotes a phrase or concept), such as many
    traffic signs and pictorial symbols for male and
    female toilets.

17
  • Map signs, computer graphics, punctuation marks,
    road signs, and so on are also part of the
    literacy learning process
  • Is English literacy harder to acquire than
    literacy in other languages?
  • Two principles are usually identified as the
    basis of the different writing systems that
    symbols should represent meaning, as in
    logographs or pictograph, or that symbols should
    represent sound, as in alphabets or syllabaries.
  • In addition, children need to work out how the
    temporal order of speech relates to the spatial
    order of writing.

18
  • English writing is more complex, as there are
    fewer symbols in the twenty-six-letter alphabet
    of English than there are sounds in the spoken
    language, and the standard orthography does not
    correspond precisely to any particular accent.
  • Disadvantage of English orthography
  • It is (opaque) in the sense that there is
    relatively little consistency in the
    grapheme-phoneme relationships, partly as a
    result of frozen spellings reflecting an earlier
    pronunciation and partly because of the large
    number of words imported from other languages,
    which makes it difficult to predict the
    pronunciation of a word from its written form.

19
  • Advantages include
  • Homophones with different etymologies (like
    knight and night) may be distinguishably by
    spelling
  • Morphemes may retain the same surface form in
    different contexts like plural s in rocks and
    rods.
  • Literacy in any language is not just about
    decoding a script or learning a conventional
    orthography.
  • Social perspectives on learning to read and
    write
  • Engaging in literacy practices
  • The paths taken to literacy do not only vary at
    an individual level.

20
  • In different communities, written and spoken
    language are intertwined in different ways, and
    there is variation in both the types of practices
    that are encouraged and the value placed on
    literacy.
  • For some children, school literacy may seem very
    different from the literacy found in their own
    homes, where
  • Children are motivated to develop language in
    order to achieve their social purposes as Alison
    Sealey said.
  • John Field is interested in the mental processes
    that lie behind childrens speaking and
    understanding of language as for others it may be
    very familiar.

21
  • Field describes how interaction with adults helps
    children to understand and develop communicative
    social behaviour at the same time as helping them
    recognise and develop the patterns of language.
  • Becoming biliterate
  • It will already have become apparent that all
    children experience a range of forms and
    functions of writing. However, children acquiring
    literacy in bilingual or multilingual communities
    are additionally faced with working out the
    particular forms and functions of a variety of
    different scripts or orthographies. (Mukul Saxena
    , 1993)

22
  • Factors such as religion, age, schooling and
    social roles all affect the languages used in
    both speech and writing, with many people
    speaking and writing more than one language.
  • Literacy events in the home and community will
    involve a complex interaction of different spoken
    languages and literacies.
  • Biliterate children develop a wider range of
    visual and actional capabilities. They learn to
    recognise what counts as important in each script
    and to identify what really matters when
    distinguishing one letter or character from
    another.
  • They learn to adapt to different contexts and in
    particular, to recognise that their classmates
    might not have the same expertise. They develop
    an interest in exploring connections between
    their writing systems.

23
  • They can use their different scripts to express a
    distinctive personal identity.
  • Kenner tells us that one of the advantages that
    biliterate children acquire is the greater
    awareness of how language systems differ, in
    other words what is known as metalinguistic
    awareness
  • One of the main findings is that bilingual and
    biliterate children do not keep their worlds
    separate but inhabit them simultaneously and are
    constantly looking for ways to express this
    multiple identity especially in their writing.

24
Reading AEnglish is a difficult writing system
for children to learn
  • Study of Seymour (2003) on the investigation of
    written word recognition skills at grade 1 showed
    that children in European countries who were
    learning to read English performed far worse
    than the children of any other nationality at
    reading both real words and non-words.
  • Study of Hummer (1990) reveals word recognition
    skills of children learning to read English take
    longer to develop than those children from
    countries such as Austria, Croatia, Greece,
    Germany, Italy Turky and Spain.

25
Reading B Young children learning different
writing systems.
26
  • How Young children learn different writing
    systems?
  • Selinas representation shows us the world of a
    six-year-old whose life is lived in Chinese and
    English- a world in which symbols and concepts
    from two languages co-exist.
  • The institutions of British society, including
    primary schools, tend to separate out the
    languages in childrens lives. Often children are
    required to use only English at school and other
    languages are restricted to home and community.
  • The justification usually given is that children
    will experience confusion if allowed to think and
    write in more than one language. The linguists
    research, however, found a very different story.

27
  • The bilingual children were all aware of the
    differences between their languages and
    literacies. But they also interested in exploring
    connections between these systems.
  • When writing, they had two sets of resources
    present in their minds and could draw on either
    or both of them to make a text. This is the
    potential creativity and learning power of living
    in simultaneous worlds.
  • Writing different scripts
  • Children becoming bi-literate find out that
    different scripts operate by different rules.
    Even scripts which look similar have their
    special attributes.
  • Bi-literate children widen their horizons with
    respect to the making and placing of marks on the
    page. They have to recognise what counts as
    important in each script and be able to produce
    their own version,.

28
  • Each writing system uses the visual and actional
    modes in particular ways. When children produce
    written symbols they have to pay attention to a
    number of different facets (like shape, size,..)
    and these will be culturally specified in the
    teaching experienced by the child.
  • Each child forms particular interpretations of
    what is important in the act of writing.
  • The design of symbols
  • Precision of Chinese characters
  • In a British primary school, children are not
    expected to show fine pen control at the age of
    five. However, this capability is necessary in
    order to write in Chinese.
  • Children also need to be able to recognise small
    differences in stroke patterns, to check that
    they have written each character correctly.

29
  • Joined letter forms in Arabic
  • Arabic, like English, is an alphabetic system,
    so symbols do not have to be written quite as
    accurately as in Chinese.
  • However, in Arabic a number of concerns still
    arise for learners about certain details of each
    letter, because the letters take different forms
    when they are at the beginning, in the middle or
    at the end of a word.
  • Children have to know how to produce each shape
    and how to join it to others. They also need to
    guard against letters looking too similar to each
    other when joined.
  • At Arabic school, teachers helped children to
    develop their abilities for visual discrimination
    by writing words on the board and asking which
    letters they were composed of.
  • If children needed help to remember these
    characteristics and to write the script
    appropriately, teachers provided support through
    join-the-dots model of a word on the board.

30
  • Teachers at Chinese and Arabic school helped
    children to understand significant details of
    this kind by emphasising them in discussion.
  • Making your mark
  • Children also like to develop their own style,
    particularly when writing their name. Producing a
    signature is the most personal and self-defining
    act of writing, and children recognise it as
    such. This can explain why childrens signatures
    are often unconventional.
  • Children often feel strongly about their
    particular design of a written symbol and are
    prepared to argue for it.
  • Embodied knowledge
  • The term embodied knowledge can involves visual,
    actional and cognitive aspects.

31
  • Embodied knowledge is part of understanding how a
    writing system works. As well as knowing what
    symbols stand for, children recognise that the
    visual characteristics of symbols and the actions
    needed to produce them also hold significance.
  • These biliterate children seemed to adapt to
    different contexts, drawing on their
    multisemiotic resources in ways they found
    appropriate.
  • Mainstream educators sometimes think that
    children will find it hard to switch between ways
    of writing in different scripts. For example, it
    is said that children who have learned the
    precision of writing Chinese will find it
    difficult to adapt to the relative freedom of the
    emergent writing they are encouraged to do in
    British schools.

32
Conclusion
  • In this section we saw, how the processes of
    learning to speak and to read in English require
    children, on the one hand, to make sense of how
    spoken and written language operate as systems
    and, on the other, to become sensitive to the
    role of language and literacy practices in their
    communities.
  • These insights can help them to make meaning for
    themselves while using English language.
  • Language and literacy act as key instruments for
    socialisation into the adult world.

33
Thank You for your Attention!
Dr. Shaju Nalkara Ouseph E-mail
snalkara_at_arabou.edu.sa
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