Introduction ...... .. 3
1. Language acquisition . . ....... 4
2. The stages of language acquisition .... ...... .. 5
2.1. The prelinguistic stage . ......... ........... 7
2.2. Babbling ........ ........... 7
2.3. One-word utterances .. .... ........... 9
2.4. Two-word utterances .............. .. .... 10
2.5. Telegraphic speech ........ ... 13
2.6. Language learning during the pre-school period ..16
3. The critical period ....... 17
4. The summary of behaviours to expect of
children with normally developing speech and language 19
5. The language acquisition cannot be sped up . . 20
6. Tips to help develop
speech communication in a child . ..22
Conclusion . .. 24
Bibliography ... . 25
Children's acquisition of language has long been considered one of the uniquely defining characteristics of human behaviour.
Still today, it is the commonly held belief that children acquire their mother tongue through imitation of the parents, caregivers or the people in their environment. Linguists too had the same conviction until 1957, when a then relatively unknown man, A. Noam Chomsky, propounded his theory that the capacity to acquire language is in fact innate. This revolutionized the study of language acquisition, and after a brief period of controversy upon the publication of his book, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, in 1964, his theories are now generally accepted as largely true. As a consequence, he was responsible for the emergence of a new field during the 1960s, Developmental Psycholinguistics, which deals with children's first language acquisition. He was not the first to question our hitherto mute acceptance of a debatable concept long before, Plato wondered how children could possibly acquire so complex a skill as language with so little experience of life. Experiments have clearly identified an ability to discern syntactical nuances in very young infants, although they are still at the pre-linguistic stage. Children of three, however, are able to manipulate very complicated syntactical sentences, although they are unable to tie their own shoelaces, for example. Indeed, language is not a skill such as many others, like learning to drive or perform mathematical operations it cannot be taught as such in these early stages. Rather, it is the acquisition of language which fascinates linguists today, and how it is possible. Noam Chomsky turned the world's eyes to this enigmatic question at a time when it was assumed to have a deceptively simple explanation.
Further in this term-paper I am going to describe the stages in child language acquistion starting from the very birth of an infant till the onset of puberty.
There are many facts that are intriguing about the language. The fact that all humans have it, and all non-humans do not. The fact that children are able to learn it very quickly. The fact that there exist so many languages and children of all countries are able to acquire them at the same speed. This list can go on and on, and I am sure that the reader can think of many other fascinating features of language. As stated by cognitive researches "Language is paramount among the capacities that characterize humans, setting us off from even the most perfectly formed and functioning of the other beasts on earth so. As a matter of species pride if nothing else we would hold up language as a marker of our humanity and thus a focus of our scientific interests. By understanding language, we understand something important about ourselves." (5,29)
The way in which children acquire language is at the centre of a debate. Learning theorists such as Skinner (1957) maintained that language is acquired through reinforcement. Chomsky (1959) argued that...