FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISTION Applied Linguistics University of Huelva First language acquisition …?? • Do children have to be “taught” how to speak? • Do children generate creative utterances? • How long does it take a children to become “fluent” in their native language? • What does it mean when a child says “I seed the dog” or “Daddy eated his supper” ? Three theories: Behavioristic approach Nativist approach Interactionistapproach Behavioristic approach 1. Operant conditioning: stimulus-response. 2. Mediation theory: linguistic stimulus elicits a mediating response that is “selfestimulating”. 3. Imitation and repetition. Nativist theories • Children do not need any kind of formal teaching to learn to speak. • Children are born with a natural capacity to learn language. • The brain contains systems for recognizing patterns of sound. Noam Chomsky’s L-A-D Chomsky’s theory of the LAD (Language Acquisition Device) states that every human is born with innate principles of language. Children learn language spontaneously and speak creatively. The “poverty of the stimulus theory” states that what children hear is incomplete and often ungrammatical, and cannot account for the creativity of their utterances. Environmentalist theories • Environment shapes learning and behavior • Children react to their surroundings • Children learn language from – Input – Trial and error – Error correction Interactionist theories: • Children require interaction with a caregiver to develop language. • Children follow the attention of the caregiver and learn to direct the attention of the caregiver. • Communication is 3-way: child, adult, object. • Language structure emerges from language use. • How is first language developed? Nature or nurture? Systematicity or variability? Language and thought Imitation Critical period hypothesis: • There is a critical period for language learning. • There is no agreement about how long this sensitive period lasts. • Genie – the American wild child – provided evidence that language cannot be learned after puberty.