Language Acquisition Theory
Is there a critical period?
Critical Period for Language Acquisition
Humans are born with the innate capacity to acquire language. There is a critical period for language acquisition and this was first proposed by Eric Lenneberg (Patkowski, 2013). During this period, language comes naturally when there is communication with the child (Gheitury, Sahraee, & Hoseini, 2012). Language acquisition beings in utero and continues throughout one’s life; however, the majority of language is acquired before the age of puberty (Friedmann & Rusou, 2015). “The ability to learn a language is determined by the onset of language experience during early brain development, independent of the specific form of the experience” (Gheitury et al., 2012, p. 32). If a baby has not received adequate language input by the age of one, there are likely to be problems related to syntax later on (Friedmann & Rusou, 2015). This was found to be true in numerous studies including those done on feral children, children born deaf, children who lost their hearing, children who had their hearing restored (Friedmann & Rusou, 2015). While those studied were able to learn words after one year of age, they had difficulty with syntax (Friedmann & Rusou, 2015). Morphology and phonology are also acquired during the critical period but they come later than syntax (Gheitury et al., 2012).
The areas of the brain used in language
Areas of the brain used when speaking what is written
Areas of the brain used when speaking what is heard
Which Factors Positively and Negatively Affect Language Development
Negative factors that affect language development
- not enough stimulation
- delayed motor skills
- lack of awareness of communication
- ear infections/fluid in ears
- hearing loss
- unstable environment
- no primary language spoken in home
- living in a home where the income is below poverty level (Rvachew, 2010)
Positive factors that affect language development
- talking to the child
- social interaction
- reading to the child
- one-on-one attention
- living in a household where the income level is above poverty because children between one and three who live in homes where the parents are professionals hear three times as many words each week as those from low income families (Rvachew, 2010)
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How Can Parents Enhance Language Development?
Brain Regions Related to Language Development
Where in the brain is important for language?
Broca's Area, Wernicke's Area, the parietal lobe
How do the areas work?
Aphasia is a language impairment.
What does each part do?
Recognize words, produce speech, word meanings
Friedmann, N., & Rusou, D. (2015). Critical period for first language: the crucial role of language input during the first year of life.Current Opinion In Neurobiology, 35(Circuit plasticity and memory), 27-34. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2015.06.003
Gheitury, A., Sahraee, A. H., & Hoseini, M. (2012). Language Acquisition in Late Critical Period: A Case Report. Deafness And Education International, 14(3), 122-135.
Mayfield Brain & Spine. (n.d.). Brain Anatomy, Anatomy of the Human Brain. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-AnatBrain.htm
Neuroscience for Kids - Language. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2016, from https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/lang.html
Patkowski, M. (2013). The critical period and parameter setting in five cases of delayed L1 acquisition. EUROSLA Yearbook, 131-21. doi:10.1075/eurosla.13.03pat
Rvachew, S. (2010, September). Language development and literacy. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/language-development-and-literacy/according-experts/factors-influence-language-development