Shape of the Class: The Foundation
Foundation for studies in SLA
First Language Acquisition
Research Methodology
First Language Acquisition
Langue
Parole
Competence
Performance
Nature
Nurture
Innate knowledge
Tabula Rasa
Nativist position
Behaviorist position
1. Define positions
2. Explain first language acquisition in each (plus
one more)
3. Interrogate
First Language Acquisition
Behaviorism
Nativism
Definition
We learn language
We are born with a
through a process of
Language Acquisition
stimulus (hearing, input) Device (LAD) and access
and response (our trials). to Universal Grammar
Correct responses are
(UG).
rewarded, as is our
We are not born
correct language use,
knowing English, or
which increases over
French, or Thai. Rather,
time.
we are born with innate
Key phrase: Habit
knowledge of certain
Formation
universal structures.
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
Definition
We learn language
“UG
consists
of
a
set
of
innate,
through a process of
abstract, linguistic principles which
stimulus (hearing,
input) and response
govern
what
is
possible
in
human
(our trials). Correct
language” (Larsen-Freeman &
responses are
rewarded, as is our
Long,
p.
230).
correct language
use, which increases
Principles cluster around
over time.
“parameters” – sets of properties of
Key phrase: Habit
Formation
a language that vary in certain
restricted ways.
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
Definition
We learn language
Children
are
born
with
abstract,
through a process of
structural knowledge about
stimulus (hearing,
input) and response
Language,
which
allows
them
to
(our trials). Correct
discover the rules of particular
responses are
rewarded, as is our
languages
-“to
engage
in
constant
correct language
evaluation … so as to construct the
use, which increases
over time.
simplest possible system [to
Key phrase: Habit
explain] the linguistic data” (Brown,
Formation
p. 24).
Key Phrase: Rule Formation
First Language Acquisition
Behaviorism
Nativism
Definition
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
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
First Language Acquisition
Behaviorism:
Nativism
Associated Scholars
B.F. Skinner. (1957).
Noam Chomsky. (1959).
Verbal behavior. New
Review of Verbal
York, Appleton-Century- behavior. Language, 35,
Crofts.
26–58.
First Language Acquisition
Behaviorism:
Nativism
How it Works
Children imitate sounds Input in a specific
and practice what they
language triggers the
hear. Correct structures LAD. Children discover
are positively reinforced. basic structures of the
Language acquisition is, language to be learned
thus, a process of habit by “comparing” their
formation.
innate knowledge of
Language with the
structure of the particular
language.
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
How it Works
Children imitate
pro-drop
(elimination
of
pronoun
sounds and practice
subject)
what they hear.
Correct structures
UG: +PD (pro-drop is allowed)
are positively
reinforced.
Example: [He] is my brother =
Language acquisition
is, thus, a process of
[ Ø ] Is my brother
habit formation.
What languages use this structure?
Spanish, Italian, others?
What languages don’t?
English, French, others?
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
How it Works
Children imitate
pro-drop
sounds and practice
what they hear.
Children learning Spanish as a first
Correct structures
language receive input that
are positively
reinforced.
confirms the UG structure /
Language acquisition
reinforces the UG setting.
is, thus, a process of
habit formation.
Children learning English as a first
language receive input that
contravenes the UG structure, and
they reset the parameter:
+PD
-PD.
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
How it Works
Children imitate
Cf:
heuristic
data
analysis.
sounds and practice
what they hear.
We are born with some orienting /
Correct structures
categorizing structures that help us
are positively
reinforced.
make sense of the linguistic data we
Language acquisition
collect. These structures help us
is, thus, a process of
organize linguistic data (input), so we
habit formation.
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.
Behaviorism
Children
imitate
sounds and
practice
what they
hear.
Correct
structures
are positively
reinforced.
Language
acquisition
is, thus, a
process of
habit
formation.
First Language Acquisition
Connectionism / Association
Nativism
How it Works
Cf: heuristic data
Pinker,
S.
(1999).
analysis.
Words and rules: The
We are born with some
orienting / categorizing
ingredients of
structures that help us
language. NY: Basic.
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.
Language acquisition
occurs from links or
connections children
make between words /
phrases and situations,
building an “associationist network.”
Behaviorism
Children
imitate
sounds and
practice
what they
hear.
Correct
structures
are positively
reinforced.
Language
acquisition
is, thus, a
process of
habit
formation.
First Language Acquisition
Connectionism / Association
Nativism
How it Works
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/2002/10/1
3/books/the-evolutionary-war.html
First Language Acquisition
Behaviorism:
Interrogation
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 Acquisition
Behaviorism:
Interrogation
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 Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
Interrogation
Chomsky’s “logical
How
to
“prove”
LAD
or
UG?
problem”
Bearing in mind the
Where does it exist?
potential deficits of
Ironic that we study the “deep
input and imitation,
how can people so
structure” of language (one’s
unsophisticated
“competence”) by examining
(children) learn
something so
surface structure (“performance.”
complicated as
language, so well, in
“An innate idea is inaccessible to
five years? According
proof.”
to nativists, “habit
formation” cannot
Like
the
Big
Bang,
or
Creationism,
explain language
it explains everything w/out proof.
acquisition.
First Language Acquisition
Nativism
Behaviorism
Interrogation
Chomsky’s “logical
Awesome
determinism
of
LAD
/
UG
problem”
Bearing in mind the
Reductionist / deterministic
potential deficits of
approach to development re: Piaget
input and imitation,
how can people so
(personal) or Marx (societal).
unsophisticated
But, of course, human (physical)
(children) learn
something so
development is indeed
complicated as
deterministic.
language, so well, in
five years? According
to nativists, “habit
formation” cannot
explain language
acquisition.
First Language Acquisition
First Language Acquisition
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First Language Acquisition