Linguistics Chapter 4 The Science And Theory Language Development Learning Outcomes Explain Who Studies

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
Language Development From Theory to Practice 3rd Edition
Khara L. Pence Turnbull, Laura M. Justice
Chapter 4: The Science and Theory of Language Development
Learning Outcomes:
2. Describe some major approaches to studying language development.
4. Explain how language-development theories influence practice.
I. Who Studies Language Development and Why?
A. Scientists who conduct language-development research are from many disciplines,
including psychology, linguistics, psycholinguistics, anthropology, speech-language
B. Basic research focuses primarily on generating and refining the existing knowledge
C. Applied research addresses specific problems in society and informs practices relevant
to language development.
D. Basic Research
1. Basic research topics in language development include the ways children learn the
2. Use-inspired basic research addresses useful applications of research findings.
3. For example, use-inspired basic research in language development might explore how
and when children acquire particular language abilities to inform interventions for
children lagging in language growth.
E. Applied Research
1. Scientists who study language development for applied purposes respond to societal
2. They do so in two ways: by learning how to identify persons at risk for or exhibiting
3. Applied researchers usually test language-development practices relevant to three
main contexts: homes, clinical settings, and schools.
II. What are Some Major Approaches to Studying Language Development?
A. Approaches to Studying Speech Perception
1. Goal of Speech Perception Studies
2. Methods for Studying Speech Perception
a. Researchers who study speech perception typically present auditory stimuli to
participants and measure their response to the stimuli.
b. Researchers examining speech perception in infants frequently use digital media
d. Speech perception researchers have also long relied on behavioral testing, in
which children or adults respond by speaking, pointing, or pressing buttons in
response to different speech stimuli.
e. An important complement to behavioral testing is brain-imaging technologies.
f. These technologies allow researchers to conduct direct, real-time investigations of
g. Researchers can then develop tonotopic maps that link the brain areas to the types
of auditory stimuli they process.
B. Approaches to Studying Language Production
1. Goal of Language Production Studies
a. Language production studies help inform practitioners of children’s ability to
use language expressively.
b. Such studies may involve normative research, in which experts compile data
2. Methods for Studying Language Production
a. In observational studies, researchers examine children’s language use in
b. In naturalistic settings, the researcher does not manipulate the context.
c. Alternatively, in semistructured settings, researchers manipulate the environment
in which they are observing children’s language form, content, and use.
C. Approaches to Studying Language Comprehension
1. Goal of Language Comprehension Studies
a. Language comprehension studies specifically tap into what children understand
2. Methods for Studying Language Comprehension
a. For prelinguistic infants, researchers generally use visual fixation (looking time)
on a stimulus as a measure of language comprehension.
b. For example, a researcher can determine whether an infant knows the words
c. For older children, researchers can use pointing as a measure of language
comprehension instead.
d. Alternatively, researchers may ask children to act out a series of sentences with
toy props.
III. What are Some Major Language-Development Theories?
A. Questions Language Theories Should Answer
2. Practitioners are interested in language development to better help children and adults
who may have difficulties with language.
4. We consider an adequate theory to provide some type of explanation for each of the
following three questions.
5. What Do Infants Bring to the Task of Language Learning?
6. What Mechanisms Drive Language Acquisition?
7. What Types of Input Support the Language-Learning System?
a. Some theorists suggest that increasing knowledge of social conventions and a
child’s desire to interact with others are the most important supports for language
b. Other theorists propose that when children simply hear more and more language,
B. Major Language-Development Theories
2. In contrast, nature-inspired theories, also called nativist theories, generally hold that
3. Between the nature and nurture ends of the continuum are interactionist theories,
C. Nurture-Inspired Theory
1. Behaviorist Theory
a. B.F. Skinner popularized the notion of behaviorism, according to which all
learning is the result of operant conditioning.
D. Nature-Inspired Theories
1. Universal Grammar
a. Noam Chomsky popularized the term universal grammar (UG), which describes
the system of grammatical rules and constraints consistent in all world languages.
2. Modularity Theory
a. Fodor’s modularity theory is a popular cognitive approach emphasizing the
3. Bootstrapping Theories
a. Syntactic bootstrapping describes the process by which children use the
syntactic frames surrounding unknown verbs to successfully constrain or limit the
possible meanings of the verbs.
E. Interactionist Theories
1. Social-Interactionist Theory
a. In the early 20th century, Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky stressed the
importance of social interaction for children’s language development.
b. He contended that all concepts are introduced first in the context of social
interaction (the social plane); then, with time, these concepts are internalized to
the psychological plane.
c. One critical concept in Vygotskian theory is the zone of proximal development
2. Cognitive Theory
a. Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, is best known for his observational studies of
b. Piaget hypothesized a series of cognitive stages children experience and
emphasized that achievements in one stage must occur before a child can move on
to the next stage.
c. His perspective on the subservience of language to cognition has been referred to
as the cognition hypothesis because certain cognitive achievements must be in
3. Intentionality Model
a. According to the intentionality model, children’s abilities in language, emotional
expression, cognition, social interaction, and play develop in tandem.
b. The child is responsible for driving language learning forward.
4. Competition Model
a. Children acquire language forms that they hear frequently and reliably early in
life, and later in life they acquire forms that they hear rarely or inconsistently.
b. In the competition model, multiple language forms compete with one another
5. Connectionist Theories
a. Connectionist models of language development attempt to visually approximate
the inner workings of the brain, and they model and simulate the mechanisms
responsible for language growth in relationship to input.
6. Usage-Based Theory
a. Usage-based theories of language acquisition emphasize the social nature of
language as an impetus for furthering children’s language abilities, contending
that children learn language because they have reason to talk.
b. Intention reading, which emerges during infancy, refers to the child’s ability to
d. As children repeatedly and increasingly use their awareness of social conventions
to engage with other people, their more general language abilities emerge.
IV. How Do Language Development Theories Influence Practice?
A. Linkage of Theory to Practice
1. In the case of language development, the connection between theory and practice is
not always transparent.
B. Instruction in English as a Second Language: Theory and Practice
1. Theories of language learning influence language-teaching practices in a number of
2. Cognitive principles include ideas governing language processing and automaticity
4. Linguistic principles describe the role of a person’s native language in simultaneously
facilitating and interfering with second language acquisition.
6. Although these methods are no longer widely used, we describe them because they
7. The audiolingual method emphasizes imitation, repetition, and memorization of
language forms to create automatic and habitual language responses.
8. This method has roots in behavioral psychology more specifically in Skinner’s
9. The Silent Way is a language-teaching method that emphasizes the importance of
10. Teachers facilitate students’ discovery of language rules, remaining mostly silent and
1. The goal of prevention is to inhibit language difficulties from emerging and thus
reduce the need to resolve such difficulties later in life.
2. Preventing language difficulties is particularly important for children who are at risk
3. Various programs are available to promote phonological awareness in young
4. Intervention and remediation are programs or strategies to help children, adolescents,
and adults who exhibit difficulties with some aspect of language development.
5. Enrichment is the process through which teachers, clinicians, and other adults provide
D. Evidence-Based Practice: Linking Theory, Science, and Practice
1. The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Services (IES) is one
2. With regard to speech-language pathology and audiology, professionals routinely
3. ASHA emphasizes five areas to consider in making clinical decisions: integrating the
needs, values, abilities, preferences, and interests of individuals and their families
with research evidence; acquiring and maintaining the knowledge and skills necessary
to provide high-quality services; identifying informative and cost-effective screening
Beyond the Book:
1. In small groups, discuss some of your own interactions or encounters with infants,
2. With another classmate, discuss some ways in which professionals incorporate the tents
3. Using ASHA’s N-CE Compendium of EBP Guidelines and Systematic Reviews,
4. Using the Internet, search for a commercially available language-related curriculum
5. In small groups, discuss some potential challenges a clinical professional might encounter
when integrating the needs, values, abilities, preferences, and interests of a child’s family
with research evidence.
Discussion Points:
Why are you studying language development? How might knowing about language
development help you in your career?
What other legal or civil rights issues may benefit from sociolinguistic research? How
might researchers systematically test the questions you raise?
Applied research focuses on responding to specific societal needs. What are some
additional societal needs that might involve the study of language development?
Scholars generally use the head-turn preference procedure to answer basic research
questions. Can you think of any use-inspired basic research questions about language
development this procedure might help answer?
What are some other fundamental questions you would use to guide a comparison of
language-development theories?
Describe the link among theory, science, and practice in ABA interventions. How might
subscribing to a different language-development theory influence language therapy
techniques for children with autism?

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