Language Newsletter

The Key Components of Language Acquisition

Welcome to a New School Year!

Hello, my name is Miss Lauritzen and I am your student's ELA teacher this year. I want to keep all of my students' parents/guardians informed on what is being taught in the classroom. This newsletter will inform you the key components in the acquisition or language, or how language is developed and used.

The Four Components of Communication

According to Jay Kuder (2012), communication is "'the process participants use to exchange information, ideas, needs, and desires'" (6). While communicating, four elements take place:



  1. A sender of the message
  2. A receiver of the message
  3. A shared intent to communicate
  4. A shared means of communication

The Elements of Language

Linguists, or those who study language, identify five major components when it comes to dividing the make-up of language:



  1. phonology
  2. morphology
  3. syntax
  4. semantics
  5. pragmatics


Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that signals new meaning. When the sound changes, the word's meaning changes.

Example: "Cup" and "luck" have the same lowercase u-sound, but so do "put" and "could" and they have completely different sounds and meanings.


Morphology is the study of the form of words. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language. Many words can be broken down into smaller units and retain their same meanings.

Example: The word "base" cannot be broken down and keep its same meaning, but "baseball" can.


Syntax is the study of rules that determine how words are put together in sentences. A sentence has to make sense, so if the syntax in word order is off, then the sentence does not make sense.


Semantics is the study of meanings of words.


Pragmatics is the use of language for communicating. Rules govern how we use language in social interactions.

What is Language Acquisition?

Language acquisition is the process in which we acquire language. This is not only taught in the classroom. Many physical structures are included in the acquiring of language:


Physiological Bases:

  • Respiration- the production of sound from the body
  • Phonation- the vibration of necessary for speech
  • Resonation- air resonates in the mouth and nose and how we shape them for speech
  • Articulation- the use of our lips, teeth, and tongue in making specific sounds


We also acquire the use of language by what we hear in social interactions from birth to now. A child's first acquisition to language begins from listening and imitating words and phrases heard from parents and family members.

How Will This Information Be Used in the Classroom?

Learning is a social act and there are many ways in which the a reading and writing classroom can enhance the use of language in your student. We will participate in literature circles to discuss literature, daily group work (think, pair, share), presentations, and the sharing of ideas to communicate what they are learning as we progress through the year.


Specific Practices:


Morphology: In seventh grade, we have new vocabulary terms with each new short story or novel and will practice prefixes and suffixes with each new word (beginning and endings, such as un- and ly). Words mix and mingle with one another; nouns become verbs, adjectives become adverbs with the use of prefixes and suffixes.


Syntax: Every day, we will fix sentences and the arrangement of sentences (simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex). How are sentences created and follow these rules (dependent and independent clauses)?


Semantics: Teaching figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, etc.) is a great way to teach semantics and the meaning of words. Context vocabulary is a MAP testing skill and with each new vocabulary term, the students will practice defining its meaning bases on how each word is used and the context clues given rather than using a dictionary.


Pragmatics: Throughout the year, the students will practice forming sentences and communicating in their daily writings ("Stretch Its" where the students are given a simple sentence (The kid ran.) and they have to properly use syntax and descriptive words to make the sentences longer, more detailed, and arranged with flow and order. They will also compose essays that are descriptive, persuasive, poetic, and narrative in nature.

Reference

Kuder, J. S. (2012). Teaching Students with Language Communication Disabilities. Boston, MA: Pearson.

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