sábado, 4 de octubre de 2014

First Language Acquisition

First Language Acqusition

Language acquisition is without doubt the greatest intellectual feat any person is ever required to perform and what makes it more amazing is that it is acquired at an age when we are notably incompetent at most other activities. By the time a child starts school, about 80% of the structures of his/her native language and more than 90% of the sound system have been mastered. Furthermore, this complex system is acquired by virtually every human being regardless of intelligence, age, race, sex, class or other variables. The purpose of this essay is to explore the ways children acquire their first language and analyze Chomsky‘s theory as regards first language acquisition.
All infants come to the world with linguistic skills. Even though there is great variation as regards at which children reach   a given milestone, first language acquisition follows the same stages:

Typical age
0 -6 months
During the period from about 2-4 months, infants begin making "comfort sounds", typically in response to pleasurable interaction with a caregiver.
At birth, the infant’s vocal tract is in some ways more like that of an ape than that of an adult human and babies start to experiment the sounds that may be produced with their larynges

6- 8 months
Infants start to make extended sounds that are repeated rhythmically.
Consonant+vowel sequences are often produced, such as [bababa] or [nanana].
During this stage children learn how to move each muscle and  to produce each sound.
Both vocal play and babbling are produced more often in interactions with caregivers, but infants will also produce them when they are alone.

9-18 months
One stage- word
Children start to produce isolated words which very often name objects, parts of the body,toys,animals,people, etc belonging to their closest family environment.
18 months – 24 months
Two-word stage

Children produce "mini-sentences" with simple semantic relations.

24 months- 30 months
Telegraphic stage
or early multiword stage

The child is still mostly understood by his/her parents and caregivers.
The process is usually a somewhat gradual one, in which the more telegraphic patterns alternate with adult or adult-like forms.
Over a year to a year and a half, sentences get longer, grammatical elements are less often omitted and less often inserted incorrectly, and multiple-clause sentences become commoner.

30 + months
Later multiword stage

Grammatical or functional structures emerge.

Analyzing the above chart we can observe that children can really acquire first language very quickly and effortlessly. There are many theories that try to explain how we all acquire first language.
·         Nativist position ( Chomsky)
·         Cognitive position ( Piaget)
·         Behaviorist position( Eric Lenneberg)
·         Pragmatical – social position( Brunner)

Far from contradicting one another these theories complementone another. However, the most defining characteristic of first language acquisition is that it is universal, that is to say that it is acquired regardless of any external factor. Regarding the stages, it has been demonstrated that there is a natural order that applies both to first and second language acquisition. That is to say that both systems (the system of sounds and the system of meanings) follow the same process.
Chomsky’s Theory
Chomsky’s theory states that the brain of human beings is genetically predisposed for language. Just as we are made to have two arms and are designed to walk, we are made to talk. His theory also called universal grammar or generative grammar claims that human beings are endowed with a language acquisition device (LAD) which contains the principles and parameters of different languages. Whenever those parameters are triggered by parents or caretakers’ motherese, children process that primary linguistic data through their LAD. They acquire linguistic competence in the language (generative grammar) as they are able to make hypothesis regarding how their parents’ language works. Children‘s minds are open to any human language. However, only by experiencing positive or negative evidence through a series of parameters that show how language works children will eventually develop a particular language. The environment determines the way the parameters of universal grammar are set, yielding different languages.UG cuts down the potentially infinitive number of languages to the smaller number of possible human languages by imposing strong restrictions on their syntactic form.

As a lot of people I used to think that first language was acquired partly through imitation and positive reinforcement. However, after reading about Chomsky’s theory I realize that language is a very complex system. It is creative, so children produce sentences that they have never heard before and thus it is unpredictable from the stimulus. Therefore, it is stimulus free and not stimulus bound.

I also believe that first language depends a lot on the interaction and stimulus provided by loving parents or caretakers.  The fact that many children are brought up in very poor social contexts determines poor vocabulary and poor social competence. As a consequence of this fact, very often the process of learning during primary school becomes slow.

viernes, 26 de septiembre de 2014

interesting site

I came across  this link and I found it  very interesting. Have a look!

miércoles, 13 de agosto de 2014

changing paradigms

I found the two videos extremely interesting. It is obvious that there is an urgent need to reform state education. I agree that the model was conceived for a great number of students to be educated at the lowest cost, where the particular necessities of each student are hardly ever taken into account. I also agree that children are besieged by too many stimuli that promote a constant zapping and a tendency to get too easily bored inside the classrooms.
Also those who grew up without technology sometimes get out of dated as regards mass media. However; technology is a very potential tool that is hardly exploited at school.
Teachers should catch up the use of them and try to get familiar with it so as to be able to offer a better use of them in class.
It will take some time but it seems to be the only way to engage young students and shorten the gap between different generations

sábado, 2 de agosto de 2014

finding new ways to promote active learning

Finding new ways to promote active learning

I was searching material for my paper on autonomous learning and I accidentally found this professor of Harvard who developed a new way of making learners participate and assume an active role in their learning. I found very interesting videos about some of his lectures. I think it is worthy to have a look at them and find out more about his research on education.

Eric Mazur is a Dutch Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University and Area Dean of Applied Physics. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University. Mazur founded several companies and plays an active role in industry.
In addition to his work in optical physics, Mazur has been very active in education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction, a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. He is the author of Peer Instruction: A User's Manual (Prentice Hall, 1997), a book that explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. In 2006 he helped produce the award-winning DVD Interactive Teaching. Dr. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many disciplines.


sábado, 28 de junio de 2014

Emilio Tenti Fanfani

On the 19th of June we were invited to participate in a talk given by the lecturer Emilio Tenti Fanfani. Apart from the fact that it is always very interesting to meet personally a writer from whom we have read material at the teacher training institute, I think that most of the people who attended the talk were pleasantly surprised with the lecture.
I was definitely impressed by the warmth, clarity and simplicity that this well-known sociologist addressed to the audience. He talked   of many problems that we face at school every day. One of the things that struck me the most was that currently schools are overloaded with too many demands that in fact tend to make impossible to cope with them. He also brought the issue of technology and the enormous amount of information present at internet and the necessity of developing the skills to be able to decode that information. At that point he mentioned the very important role of education to unveil and seize that knowledge.

I found lots of sites and articles on the web and, for those who were not able to assist to the lecture, may be this is a possibility to meet an extraordinary and inspiring author who is constantly defending the right of each citizen to a dignified and public education.

miércoles, 11 de junio de 2014

can we change the world from the classroom?

Despite this very well-known quotation sometimes seems to be an idealistic desire, T think that education is the basis for transforming societies. Only through education people may feel free to have the power of choice. Ignorance, on the contrary, develops dependence.

 I strongly believe that teachers should never give up to this noble ideal of promoting critical thinkers and autonomous learners. May be we cannot change the world from the classroom but we certainly can enjoy the magic of teaching and learning together with our students.

jueves, 5 de junio de 2014

Hello! The purpose of this space is to share  interesting material  with my classmates and any other colleague or person interested in the fantastic process of teaching -learning!