English Language development – “Danny and his mum”
The extracts in which I have analysed are conversations between a young child, Danny and his mother. The three stages are approximately 3 months apart from each other. Stage A at 21 months, Stage B at 24 months, and Stage C at 27 months.
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All children are unique in their language development and they’re difficult to study. Their concentration span usually affects how they can be studied, often the child will wander off or just simply be uncooperative in any way possible.
Children are usually very inconsistent and sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the child is actually learning language or whether imitative behaviour is playing a role. E.g. “Hello” “Hello.”
Everybody has a limited vocabulary, this is especially obvious in young children often the evidence of a child putting a sentence together is ambiguous. E.g. “I doing like this all day” depending on the context and the tone of voice this sentence could mean He likes doing something all day (with incorrect word order) Or he’s behaving like this all the time (where the problem may be a limited vocabulary)
Finally, there is a time lag between understanding language and production of language, especially where children are concerned they can always take in more than they can produce in their own language.
Concerning language theories it is difficult to determine at what age a child should be able to a specific skill, however below is a guideline of which acquisition skills are usually achieved and at what age.
6-8 weeks: cooing (repeating vowel sounds)
6-7 months: babbling (consonants and intonation) Reduplicated babbling (babababa)
10 months: gestures, pointing
11-12 months: variegated babbling (bigodabu)
12 months: one-word utterances “ball,” “water,” “up”
18 months: Telegraphic speech Two-word utterances in their simplest form (“baby cry,” “push truck”)
2 – 3 years Morphology Use of function words, prefixes, suffixes (ing endings prepositions, plural) Over-regularisation’s, Syntax Sentences gradually become longer, more complex “Daddy ball” “Daddy throw ball” “Will you throw the ball, Daddy?”
Below are some theories of Language Development
Nativistic-There is an inborn language acquisition devise (LAD) that transforms the surface structure of language into an internal deep structure that the child readily understands.
Cognitive-Developmental- Cognitive and language development progress together. Children are analysing content prior to extracting grammatical structures.
Environmental Learning – The environment provides children with requisite learning experiences to acquire language. Parents facilitate language acquisition by providing a language acquisition support system (LASS).
The preverbal period – Speech Perception – Babies are born with categorical perception of many speech contrasts, including many that do not occur in their own language. Exposure to specific contrasts of their own language facilitates discrimination ability, such that older children and adults can no longer hear many speech contrasts that young infants can discriminate. Babies prefer speech sounds to other sounds, particularly the rising and falling intonations many adults use when speaking to young children (i.e. “motherese”). The preverbal period – Early Sounds and Gestures. The first sounds are cries and guttural physiological noises. – Cooing appears at about 2 months, while reduplicated babbling begins at 6 months. Near the end of the first year, babbling becomes more speech-like in sound and intonation. Gestures serve many pragmatic functions for infants, initially taking the form of requests (e.g., gesture to be picked up) and referential communication (pointing), and later functioning as symbols to label objects, events, and attributes.
At approximately 12-months children utter what is recognised by most parents to be their first words. While the first word utterance may appear sudden and discontinuous, it is in fact part of a gradual and continuous process. At approximately 18-months, children’s vocabularies increase rapidly, with nouns comprising the majority of children’s first words. This has been called the naming explosion. There are large individual differences in the proportion of nouns children use. Some children use a high proportion of nouns in what is termed a “referential style.” Others use more of a mix of phrases, including frozen phrases such as “What’s that?” and “Lemmee see,” that characterise what has been termed an “expressive style.” This latter style emphasises pragmatic functions of language rather than labelling. Some research suggests that girls are more likely to use a referential style and some researchers believe that this may be related to differences in rearing environments for boys and girls. Doll play may involve more labelling than truck play.
The nature of children’s early words ï¿½ Overextensions- calling the cat a “doggie” ï¿½ Underextensions – less common than overextensions, calling a pigeon robin a bird but not calling a robin a bird.
Coining – children create new words that are not part of adult language ï¿½ First Word Combinations occur as children begin to approach 24-months of age. There is tremendous cross-language commonality in the occurrence of two-word combinations and other aspects of language unfolding.
In the case of Danny at 2 years (24 months) he shows inconsistency in coherence and grammar. Danny is at the two-word stage “more statue” however he does not fully understand the use of plurals and verbs and therefore cannot produce a correct sentence. He finds it difficult to produce a long sentence due to lack of conjunctions “and” therefore he uses fillers and stutters to keep his turns going. His pronunciation is not good he is not fluent and stutters in some parts of the conversation “the big long lo long long train” which may be down to his limited lexis. However towards the end of the conversation his pronunciation develops “fast car vintage” as a direct cause of new lexis being learnt. His word order is incorrect in most sentences however, this does improve towards the end of the conversation which could be due to imitative behaviour “splash piggy” or that Danny has actually understood the language “Becca draw on there” his word order improves but areas of speech such as tenses prove difficult for Danny.
At this stage Danny’s mum’s input is sometimes quite confusing and seems to leave Danny more confused than anything “What’s he lifting up? What’s the crane lifting up?” this could be because she is trying to find the correct level to come into the conversation at, however Danny is left simply confused. On many occasions her sentences are far too complex for Danny or even a more advanced 2-year-old “What do you think it’s doing if it’s got brushes on the car?” “What do you think he’s putting the water on the road for?” His mother uses prompt “isn’t it?” she attempts to involve Danny in the conversation whenever possible she also repetition and imitation to back up what he says whether it be correct or nearly “fast car vintage.” this is a successful technique because instead of trying to rush his development by correcting every small error she looks for sentences where a part of speech is correct. E.g. word order may be correct but he fails to use tenses, instead of confusing Danny completely she picks up on the good parts of his speech. For the first time Danny uses endings “ing” and “s” and produces his first perfect sentence “look there’s one” although it is basic statement it shows Danny is improving every day. He uses a double negative “no not sitting” because he is yet to develop the skill of disagreement. Danny even corrects his mother “Daddy sit there” this shows a growing confidence in the youngster and growing ability.
Towards the end of the conversation he becomes more coherent, his grammar improves, his vocabulary becomes wider and he begins to develop the skill of turntaking.
At 27 months Danny produces longer turns “I don’t want to go to Watchett” he is more coherent and his understanding develops immensely. As regards imitation, Danny leads the conversation, which shows how he has developed in a mere three months. In parts he uses telegraphic language “I got a library book” However, he uses self correction to again show how his understanding has developed “I…we don’t want go and see them.” Another development from 24 months is the use of conjunctions “no I don’t want I want to go when I get bigger want to go on my own a a Watchett.” This example is a long turn for Danny with fairly complex features, he incorporates a new learnt ending “er” which he uses correctly and doesn’t mix it up.
Adults tend to use “we” instead of “I” It is evident with Danny that children do pick up on this. “We’re going to be good today aren’t we?” The child doesn’t understand why the “we” is used and simply imitates it because it is believed to be correct. Danny uses three verbs in one sentence “I don’t want to go to Watchett” which is an incredible achievement from three months previous. Danny begins to incorporate his own vocabulary into the conversation “television” he sets the agenda in the conversation, his mother however, still takes the lead but not as directly. Danny uses past and future “when get bigger” tenses towards the end of the conversation however cannot quite master perfect tense although they are not completely grammatically correct it is evident that Danny really is learning competently and steadily.
His mother uses tag questions to prompt Danny “called Harry isn’t he?” this is effective to a certain degree as Danny replies “Harry” whether this is due to knowledge or simply imitation is not evident. She tries to help Danny to develop his labelling skills “that dog” however, this technique isn’t as successful as others are possibly because Danny is too young or maybe he simply doesn’t understand what his mother is trying to do. She seems to make more sense to Danny in this particular conversation, and is no longer needed to over power Danny as leader of the conversation they are more equal, which brings out the best in Danny it is almost as though they are socialising and taking part in a proper conversation instead of Danny’s mum trying to get the best out of Danny by constantly prompting and correcting her son.
To conclude, the major developments made have been the endings learnt, the expansion on vocabulary without imitation, the use of tenses, longer more correct turns and understanding. Danny’s progress is evident in most aspects of speech. Compared to the guidelines of how a child’s speech should have improved with age Danny is slightly behind, this isn’t because he is less intelligent or has a problem it is simply because no child is average, no one has the same learning speed because this is part of being an individual.
Danny’s mum became less in charge as Danny got older, she was no longer needed to lead the conversation and therefore both Danny and his mum were on more of an equal status, she no longer needed to correct Danny because towards the end he began to understand her. The turns of both Danny and his mum became longer as he aged this shows the major development in Danny’s language acquisition that he is no longer dependent on his mother and has his own be it small vocabulary.
Danny is still to learn a more vast vocabulary but this will come with age and experience, he is yet to perfect his use of tenses and sometimes telegraphic language plays a part in his turns. The majority of his language is good but not perfect, but even teenagers have difficulty in this area nobody’s language is ever perfect. He has to improve fluency but this will come once he has a wider vocabulary.
Overall Danny has progressed competently in all areas of speech, he is not ahead for his age but as explained we are all individuals and do not follow a trend by any means.