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Foundation for studies in SLA. Shape of the Class: The Foundation. First Language Acquisition. Research Methodology. First Language Acquisition Langue Parole Competence Performance Nature Nurture Innate knowledge Tabula Rasa Nativist position Behaviorist position Define positions

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shape of the class the foundation

Foundation for studies in SLA

Shape of the Class: The Foundation

First Language Acquisition

Research Methodology

slide2

First Language Acquisition

Langue Parole

Competence Performance

Nature Nurture

Innate knowledge Tabula Rasa

Nativist position Behaviorist position

Define positions

Explain first language acquisition in each (plus one more)

Interrogate

first language acquisition
First Language Acquisition

Definition

Behaviorism

Nativism

We are born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) and access to Universal Grammar (UG).

We are not born knowing English, or French, or Thai. Rather, we are born with innate knowledge of certain universal structures.

We learn language through a process of stimulus (hearing, input) and response (our trials). Correct responses are rewarded, as is our correct language use, which increases over time.

Key phrase: Habit Formation

first language acquisition4
First Language Acquisition

Definition

Behaviorism

Nativism

“UG consists of a set of innate, abstract, linguistic principles which govern what is possible in human language” (Larsen-Freeman & Long, p. 230).

Principles cluster around “parameters” – sets of properties of a language that vary in certain restricted ways.

We learn language through a process of stimulus (hearing, input) and response (our trials). Correct responses are rewarded, as is our correct language use, which increases over time.

Key phrase: Habit Formation

first language acquisition5
First Language Acquisition

Definition

Behaviorism

Nativism

Children are born with abstract, structural knowledge about Language, which allows them to discover the rules of particular languages -- “to engage in constant evaluation … so as to construct the simplest possible system [to explain] the linguistic data” (Brown, p. 24).

Key Phrase: Rule Formation

We learn language through a process of stimulus (hearing, input) and response (our trials). Correct responses are rewarded, as is our correct language use, which increases over time.

Key phrase: Habit Formation

first language acquisition6
First Language Acquisition

Definition

Behaviorism

Nativism

We are born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) and access to Universal Grammar (UG).

We are not born knowing English, or French, or Thai. Rather, we are born with innate knowledge of certain universal structures.

“UG consists of a set of innate, abstract, linguistic principles which govern what is possible in human language” (Larsen-Freeman & Long, p. 230).

Principles cluster around “parameters” – sets of properties of a language that vary in certain restricted ways.

Children are born with abstract, structural knowledge about Language, which allows them to discover the rules of particular languages -- “to engage in constant evaluation … so as to construct the simplest possible system [to explain] the linguistic data” (Brown, p. 24).

Key Phrase: Rule Formation

We learn language through a process of stimulus (hearing, input) and response (our trials). Correct responses are rewarded, as is our correct language use, which increases over time.

Key phrase: Habit Formation

first language acquisition7
First Language Acquisition

Associated Scholars

Behaviorism:

Nativism

Noam Chomsky. (1959). Review of Verbal behavior. Language, 35, 26–58.

B.F. Skinner. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts.

first language acquisition8
First Language Acquisition

How it Works

Behaviorism:

Nativism

Input in a specific language triggers the LAD. Children discover basic structures of the language to be learned by “comparing” their innate knowledge of Language with the structure of the particular language.

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

first language acquisition9
First Language Acquisition

How it Works

Behaviorism

Nativism

pro-drop (elimination of pronoun subject)

UG: +PD (pro-drop is allowed)

Example: [He] is my brother = [ Ø ] Is my brother

What languages use this structure?

Spanish, Italian, others?

What languages don’t?

English, French, others?

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

first language acquisition10
First Language Acquisition

How it Works

Behaviorism

Nativism

pro-drop

Children learning Spanish as a first language receive input that confirms the UG structure / reinforces the UG setting.

Children learning English as a first language receive input that contravenes the UG structure, and they reset the parameter:

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

+PD

-PD.

first language acquisition11
First Language Acquisition

How it Works

Behaviorism

Nativism

Cf: heuristic data analysis.

We are born with some orienting / categorizing structures that help us make sense of the linguistic data we collect. These structures help us organize linguistic data (input), so we can begin to see the rules of a particular language – whether they confirm or contravene UG. Thus, language acquisition is a process of Rule Formation.

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

first language acquisition12
First Language Acquisition

Connectionism / Association

How it Works

Behaviorism

Nativism

Cf: heuristic data analysis.

We are born with some orienting / categorizing structures that help us make sense of the linguistic data we college. These structures help us organize linguistic data (input), so we can begin to see the rules of a particular language – whether they confirm or contravene UG. Thus, language acquisition is a process of Rule formation.

Pinker, S. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. NY: Basic.

Language acquisition occurs from links or connections children make between words / phrases and situations, building an “associa-tionist network.”

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

first language acquisition13
First Language Acquisition

Connectionism / Association

How it Works

Behaviorism

Nativism

Cf: heuristic data analysis.

We are born with some orienting / categorizing structures that help us make sense of the linguistic data we college. These structures help us organize linguistic data (input), so we can begin to see the rules of a particular language – whether they confirm or contravene UG. Thus, language acquisition is a process of Rule formation.

Pinker, S. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. NY: Basic.

Language acquisition occurs from links or connections children make between words / phrases and situations, building an “associationist network.”

Pinker, Steven. (2002). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature. New York: Viking. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/13/books/the-evolutionary-war.html

Children imitate sounds and practice what they hear. Correct structures are positively reinforced. Language acquisition is, thus, a process of habit formation.

first language acquisition14
First Language Acquisition

Interrogation

Behaviorism:

Chomsky’s “logical problem”

Do children hear perfectly formed language?

How can children learn language perfectly if their input is not perfect?

If we only learn what we hear, how to explain the creation of complex, unique sentences / structures?

wug

wugged

“Jump me down, Daddy!”

“Take me a bath!”

first language acquisition15
First Language Acquisition

Interrogation

Behaviorism:

Chomsky’s “logical problem”

Bearing in mind the potential deficits of input and imitation, how can people so unsophisticated (children) learn something so complicated as language, so well, in five years?

According to nativists, “habit formation” cannot explain language acquisition.

first language acquisition16
First Language Acquisition

Interrogation

Behaviorism

Nativism

How to “prove” LAD or UG?

Where does it exist?

Ironic that we study the “deep structure” of language (one’s “competence”) by examining surface structure (“performance.”

“An innate idea is inaccessible to proof.”

Like the Big Bang, or Creationism, it explains everything w/out proof.

Chomsky’s “logical problem”

Bearing in mind the potential deficits of input and imitation, how can people so unsophisticated (children) learn something so complicated as language, so well, in five years? According to nativists, “habit formation” cannot explain language acquisition.

first language acquisition17
First Language Acquisition

Interrogation

Behaviorism

Nativism

Awesome determinism of LAD / UG

Reductionist / deterministic approach to development re: Piaget (personal) or Marx (societal).

But, of course, human (physical) development is indeed deterministic.

Chomsky’s “logical problem”

Bearing in mind the potential deficits of input and imitation, how can people so unsophisticated (children) learn something so complicated as language, so well, in five years? According to nativists, “habit formation” cannot explain language acquisition.