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Theories and Models of Language. Oral Language and Written Language. “Reading seems to depend on a set of language processes that are common to both reading and listening.” (Daneman, 1991, p.56)” …internally reading and auding are the same language (Sticht & James, 1984, p. 303).

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Oral language and written language
Oral Language and Written Language

  • “Reading seems to depend on a set of language processes that are common to both reading and listening.” (Daneman, 1991, p.56)”

  • …internally reading and auding are the same language (Sticht & James, 1984, p. 303).

Definition of oral language
Definition of Oral Language

  • Primary means of human communication

  • A system for representing human thought

  • Use of abstract symbols (sounds) to represent concepts

  • Use of a finite number of sounds to create an infinite number of words

  • Involves genetic and environmental bases

  • Acquired through active participation: listening, speaking, evaluating responses

Language and thought possibilities
Language and Thought: Possibilities

  • Thought depends on language

  • Language depends on thought

  • Language and thought are interactive

Components of language
Components of Language

  • Phonology

  • Morphology

  • Syntax

  • Semantics

  • Pragmatics

The sounds of language phonology
The Sounds of Language: Phonology

  • The English language has 44 sounds represented in writing by only 26 letters: cough, tough, bough, through, though

  • Linguists categorize sounds by the place and manner of articulation.

Speech production
Speech Production

  • We push air from the lungs up through the vocal tract and manipulate:

    • Vibration of vocal cords

    • Raising the velum (air is forced through the mouth) and lowering the velum (some air escapes through the nose)

    • Stopping or impeding the air flow

    • /p/ /t/ /k/ /m/


  • Morphemes are units of meaning.

  • A word may contain one or more morphemes: hunt; hunts; hunted; hunter; hunters.

  • Morphemes can be free (cat) or bound (s, ing, ed).

  • The same morpheme can carry multiple meanings in English: cats, wants.


  • Syntax refers to sentence construction.

  • The vyakum flannered down the quettiful voth with maggle tome. Despite zathers, Cneb ackered the sestuaga and planella. He iffered and hathered for bromes and bromes.


  • Word Meaning: Fat, rich, soft, suet, weighty

  • Word Choice: Fat, plump, overweight, chunky, chubby, stout, obese

  • Word Combinations: fat cat, fat of the land, chew the fat; fat farm; fat chance; fat wallet; fat lip


  • “For pity’s sake, will you shut up so I can get a word in edgewise?”

  • “Excuse me for interrupting but I really need to offer a comment.”

  • “Stuff it!”

Units of language
Units of Language

  • Phoneme

  • Syllable

  • Morpheme

  • Word

  • Phrase

  • Clause

  • Sentence

  • Genre or discourse

Communicative competence
Communicative Competence

  • Grammatical competence: Word formation; word meaning; pronunciation; sentence formation

  • Pragmatic or sociolinguistic competence: Producing and understanding language in different contexts; considering factors as participants, purposes and conventions of the interaction

Communicative competence1
Communicative Competence

  • Discourse Competence: Combining linguistic units into meaningful wholes

  • Strategic Competence: manipulating language to achieve goals; use of gestures and voice tone

Language functions
Language Functions

  • Instrumental

  • Regulatory

  • Interactional

  • Personal

  • Imaginative

  • Heuristic

  • Informative

  • Metalinguistic

How children learn language skinner
How Children Learn LanguageSkinner

  • Language is a set of associations learned through relating a stimulus to a response

  • Language is learned through imitation, practice and reinforcement

  • Criticized because of low rate of parental reinforcement; attention to accuracy as opposed to grammatical correctness and low use of imitation in children

How children learn language chomsky
How Children Learn Language Chomsky

  • Language is innate and part of biological makeup: LAD

  • Each language has a limited set of basic sentence structures and transformations of these structures

  • Speed of language development would be impossible without innate structures

How children learn language phonology
How Children Learn Language: Phonology

  • Emerges without teaching

  • Learning to make sounds occurs before learning to make words

    • Sounds are learned in a pattern

  • The first stage in babbling or spontaneous vocalizing

How children learn language morphology
How Children Learn Language: Morphology

  • Learn irregular forms: came, men, mice,feet

  • Overgeneralize to other words: camed, mens, mices, feets

  • Learn rules and relearn exceptions

How children learn syntax
How Children Learn Syntax

  • One word stage

  • Two word stage

  • Telegraphic stage

How children learn vocabulary
How Children Learn Vocabulary

  • Overextension and underextension

  • Age I year, 8 months: 50 words

  • Age 5: 15/20 words per day

  • Age 8: 18,000 basic words

Language myths
Language Myths

  • Some languages are simpler and easier to learn

  • Some languages are primitive

  • Some dialects are better than others

  • Some languages are superior to others

Language myths1
Language Myths

  • Other people have accents

  • Language should be correct

  • Children learn languages more easily than adults

  • English spelling is irregular and idiosyncratic ghoti = fish

Two theoretical perspectives
Two Theoretical Perspectives

  • Cognitive Science Perspective

  • Sociocultural Perspective

Cognitive science perspective
Cognitive Science Perspective

  • An empirically based effort to answer questions concerned with the nature of knowledge, its components, its development and its use.

  • The individual is regarded as a processor of environmental input.

Cognitive science perspective1
Cognitive Science Perspective

  • There is little innate higher knowledge.

  • Lower level learning mechanisms lead to higher level concepts and behavior.

  • Cognitive science focuses on the processes individuals use to make sense of and integrate information.

Sociocultural perspective
Sociocultural Perspective

  • Human knowledge is embedded in social and physical contexts and cannot be examined in decontextualized manner.

  • Social experience plays a critical role in the development of language and literacy.

Contrasting perspectives
Contrasting Perspectives

Cognitive Science

  • Learning: acquisition

  • Capability: skill

  • Mind: rational

  • Unit of Analysis: the individual


  • Learning: participation

  • Capability: practice

  • Mind: evaluative

  • Unit of Analysis: social participation in context

Contrasting perspectives language
Contrasting Perspectives Language

Cognitive Science

  • Interest in grammar

  • Stress on complex rule systems and cognitive constraints

  • Word meaning analyzed as components features


  • Interest in meaning and pragmatics

  • Stress on social dynamics

  • Context analyzed in determining meaning

Contrasting perspectives language1
Contrasting Perspectives Language

Cognitive Science

  • Language is a knowledge system that must be acquired by means of a processing system.


  • Language is a system of social and cultural practices into which a child must be socialized.

Study team digestion time
Study Team Digestion Time

  • What were the most important new concepts that you learned?

  • What did you find interesting, controversial, confusing, alarming, comforting, etc.?

  • Be prepared to share with the class.