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Psychology of Human Growth and Development
Language development
cognitive development part 2
Psychosocial development
Development of emotions
Language development
Cognitive development part 1
Perceptual development part 2
Development of attachment
Nature versus nature
Introduction to developmental theories
Prenatal development and chromosomal abnormalities
Prenatal development and teratogens
Brain development
Motor development
Physical growth
Perceptual development

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The Development of language and communication




         Language is the primary means for communicating propositional thoughts

         Universal: every human of normal intelligence acquires his or her native tongue.


levels of language


         Language is multilevel system for relating thoughts to speech by word and sentence units.

         Language use involves moving through various levels.

o        At the highest level are sentence units

o        The next level is that of words and parts of words that carry meaning

o        The next level contains speech sounds


         Two aspects of language

o        Production

o        Comprehension


         Basic properties of language: every human language has these properties

o        It is structured at multiple levels.

o        It is productive


language units and processes


v               Speech sounds

         Not all speech sounds are distinct


o        These are categories of speech sounds

o        We are good at discriminating different sounds that correspond to different phonemes in our language.

o        When phonemes are combined in the right way they form words

o        Each language has a set of rules about which phonemes can follow others.


v               Word units


o        This is the smallest linguistic unit that carries meaning

         Grammatical Morpheme

o        These morphemes serve to make the sentences grammatical

o        They are acquired in a different manner from content words


v               Sentence units

         These include both sentences and phrases.

         An important property is that they can correspond to parts of a proposition

         Syntactic analysis

o        Syntax deals with the relations between words in phrases and sentences


effects of context on comprehension and production


         Both in speaking and in understanding we must determine how the utterance fits the context.

         Most salient part of the context is the person we are communicating with.


development of language


         in development of language children must master

1.        all levels of language:


a.      the proper speech sounds

b.      how these sounds are combined into thousands of words

c.      how these words can be combined into sentences to express thoughts.


         in all cultures virtually all children accomplish this in 4-5 years. All children go through the same sequence of development:



o        from a few days old, if they hear human speech their limbs will become synchronized with the rhythm of the speech.

         age 1:

o        babbling strings of consonants-vowel combinations

o        few isolated words

         age 2: 2-3

o        word sentences

o        child goes from 50 words to 900 words in six months

         age 3: sentences become more grammatical

         age 4: child speaks much like an adult


v               Babbling


         Refers to an infant’s production of strings of consonant-vowel sounds.

         When they start babbling they produce sounds which the adults around them do not produce.

         Babbling and experience

o        Children who are congenitally deaf start babbling like normal children but give it up at about 8-9 months.

o        If their hearing is restored at this point babbling returns and the child learns a spoken language.


v               Phonemes

         Children come into the world able to discriminate different sounds that correspond to different phonemes in any language.

o        In the first year infants learn which phonemes are relevant to their language.

o        If a language does not use a particular discrimination its speakers loose it.

         Takes several yeas for children to lean how phonemes can be combined to form words.

o        Early words often involve phonemic simplication and the use of context to carry some of the meaning

o        Later in phonemic development child may use systematic rules and strategies to produce intelligible words

         Usually simplify consonant clusters which are hard to articulate

         Replace two different consonants in a word by a repetition of the same one.

         Avoid the use of words which contain a difficult sound.

         By age 4 they have leant most of what they need to know about phoneme combinations.


v               Words and concepts


         Beginning of vocabulary

o        Children begin to speak at 1 years old.

o        Children between 1-2 talk mainly about what they already know

o        Early words tend to be nouns

o        Early words also tend to be regulatory words


               They are mapping the concepts to words that adults use.

         Overextending words into neighboring concepts

o        This refers to the use of a single word to cover many different things.

o        Overextensions disappear at about 2 years.

         underextending words into neighboring concepts

o        These are the use of a single word in a restricted and individualistic way.

         Vocabulary growth

o        Children tuned to learning new words

o        Holophrase 


         This refers to when a single word that appears to represent a complete thought.


v               Sentences

         Development of syntax

o        About 1 to 2 years children start combining single words into two-word utterances.

o        Telegraphic quality of speech

o        Verb phrases

o        Use of conjunctions to form compound sentences

o        Use of grammatical morphemes

o        Overregularization

         over-extend rules: this is the mistaken application of a principle of regular change to a word that changes irregularly.

o        Children have to learn to combine words in ways which obey grammatical rules

o        Sequence of language development is remarkably similar in all children.


how children learn language


         Important issues in language acquisition is learning sentence units and syntax.


v      learning processes


v               Motherese

         The most consistent findings in studies on language development is that mothers and other adults (even older children) adjust their speech to the child developing language.

         This contains

o        Attention getters and holders

o        Restriction of semantic content

o        Syntactic restriction

o        Specialized strategy of discourse


v               Imitation

         Imitate adults by repeating the words they hear their parents speak.

         Not the principal means of learning a language

         Some linguists and psychologists argue that it is impossible for a child to learn a language by imitation:


v               Conditioning

         Children may learn language through conditioning:

o        Adults reward children when they produce a grammatical sentence and reprimand them when they make mistakes



o        Parents would have to respond to every detail in a child’s speech and parents do not pay attention to how the child speaks as long as the statement is comprehensible.

o        Focus on specific utterances one can only imitate or reinforce something specific


v               Hypothesis testing

         Method by which

o        Children often learn something general

o        Form a hypothesis about a rule of language

o        Test it

o        Retain it if it works

         Operating principles used by young children as a guide in forming hypothesis.

o        Children from many countries seem to follow these principles in learning to talk and to understand speech.

1.        look for systematic changes in the form of words.

2.        look for grammatical markers that clearly indicate changes in meaning.

3.        avoid exceptions

4.        pay attention to the ends of words

5.        pat attention to the order of words, prefixes and suffixes.

6.        avoid interruption or rearrangement of constituents (that is, sentence units).


v      innate factors


         Some of our knowledge about language is innate.


         The study of different languages has revealed a number of specific features that may be common to all languages.


         The process of language acquisition is similar for different languages.

         The sequence is similar for all children despite large variations in the language of the adults around them.


critical periods

       Two aspects of language learning shown to have critical periods



       1st month lose the ability to discriminate phonemes so its critical to hone in on the phonemes of one’s native language.




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