Perceptual Foundations of Language Development | Free Essay Example

Perceptual Foundations of Language Development

Words: 958
Topic: Linguistics

Explain how the interactive practices between adults and young children promote language development. Why is the approach you chose better than the other approaches?

The nativist interpretation is the most logical of all psychological approaches to childhood language development. This is because each human being is endowed with an innate ability to language that is manifested as the child interacts with the environment and adults. The nativists interpret language acquisition based on the assumptions that language is not only universal, but it is also unique to humans.

Proponents of this theory believe that only severe cases of limitations either physically or mentally can limit language acquisition by humans. Even then, they argue that the desire to acquire language is so strong that many people end up talking in spite of many challenges that may seem overwhelming (Hulit, Howard, & Fahey, 2010).

There has been much opposition to this theory especially regarding the uniqueness of language acquisition ability to humans. In this regard, several studies have been done using chimpanzees and other primates in language studies to discredit the nativist theory. However, the small “successes” in teaching chimps to use sign language is not enough proof that animals can grasp the complexity of language as humans do. The assumption that adults and other external environment helps to shape the innate ability to acquire language makes this theory better than others (Terrace, 1980).

Describe the possible relationships between cognition, comprehension, and language production. Be sure to include specific skills the preschool child uses (e.g. fast mapping) and the learning theories that support the relationships you identify

Separation of intellectual growth from language development is impossible. Similarly, it is very difficult to disconnect comprehension from language production as these processes are intricately connected and form an interactive association. Our conversations are a reflection of what we understand about people, events, and things. Consequently, clear thoughts often result in clear language whether in speaking or writing.

Children learn, understand, and produce language in reflection of what they know and continue to learn through language. The association between cognition and language production is such that children must first gain an understanding of concepts before they can use some form of language in an effective way. Experience in relational words in many contexts is crucial before complete understanding of the relationships between events, objects, and people.

For example, in order for children to produce when questions, they must understand cause-effect prior to comprehension or production of why or how questions. Comprehension and language development is similar to Piaget’s theory of development where children first need to understand the sequence of events before they can understand duration. Children first need to understand and produce words that indicate order such as before and after before using words that indicate duration such as until and since (Hulit, Howard, & Fahey, 2010).

Share some of idiomatic expressions you use now or remember using from your childhood. How did your culture influence your family’s use of these expressions?

During my childhood years, there were some idiomatic expressions that I used such as mommy and papa. The culture of my people such as referring to a father as dad and mother as mum had a strong influence on my early expressions. This must have influenced my early expressions as I tried to imitate and call mum mommy. In reflecting upon my early elementary school, I would describe my learning environment as conducive in terms of extent and content to which instructions for reading and writing were disseminated. The instructions were in line with modern philosophies. Pictures and charts ware used well to strengthen learning and improve language development. Adaptive technologies were also used to assist those children that had learning disabilities.

Skills and completeness in identifying definitions increases as a child’s knowledge in life and language increase. The development of metalinguistic skills is similar to Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. Just like in Piaget’s theory, Metalinguistic skills also indicate that a child’s skills in language improve with age, maturity, and increasing experience in life. For example, a child’s definitions at preschool level are concrete and personal but become more conceptual and abstract as the child progresses through elementary school years and accumulate more experience with life and languages (Hulit, Howard, & Fahey, 2010).

Compare and contrast, the early studies of Wellman, Poole, and Templin with one of the more current views (biological, prosodic, cognitive, natural phonology, structuralist, behaviorist, or self-organizing theory) of phonological development

Comparatively, Wellman’s, Poole’s, and Templin’s phonematic acquisition studies were consistent in general design in spite of variations in specific methodologies. Apart from Tamplin whose study sample was biased towards the lower side of the socioeconomic continuum and included children from the urban areas exclusively, the other two made reasonable attempts at distributing their study subjects by socioeconomic levels.

The researchers excluded children with hearing problems and language delays from their studies. Unlike Wellman and Tamplin who accepted imitated responses from subjects who failed to give a spontaneous response after being shown pictures and objects, Poole only accepted spontaneous responses. Templin and Wellman considered mastery of the sound to be adequate if three quarters of the subjects produced it correctly in all appropriate word positions at a given age level. Poole’s study was different as sound was considered mastered only if it was correctly produced by all the subjects in a study for a given age category.

Behaviorist believes that focus should be on observable and measurable behaviours of a child in phonological development. They view a child as having no knowledge about the rules of language. This is inconsistent with the studies of the three studies which showed a degree of phonological development among the children regardless of their external environment (Hulit, Howard, & Fahey, 2010).


Hulit, L. M., Howard, M. R., & Fahey, K. R. (2010). Born to talk: An introduction to speech and language development (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Terrace, H. (1980). Nim: A chimpazee who learned sign language. New York: Knopf.