Linguistics and Children

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TMA06

This assignment will firstly explain the meaning of the following terms, communicative competence and metalinguistic awareness. Observations have shown that children do imitate older peers and adults when speaking as well as signs of creativity from an early age when developing language. Then the second section will evaluate the roles of creativity and imitation in regards to learning spoken English. This assignment will focus on the spoken English of young children.

Part 1

Communicative competence - Is a term that refers to the way in which a language user communicates efficiently and successfully depends upon their communicative competence. Linguist Noam Chomsky depicted a variation within the term ‘linguistic’ which he divided into to competence and performance. The term linguistic performance is associated with incorrectly and/or repeated ungrammatical delivered actual utterances of language in use. Linguistic competence refers to the knowledge of the language system which will enable the speaker to distinguish the utterances that are grammatical in the language from those that are not. (Chomsky, 1965 cited in Book3, pg 48) However linguist Hymes believed speakers need to attain distinctive skills in performance such as what is the socially appropriate turn of phrase to accomplish the desired effect as well as knowing when to speak. With regards to children as well as learning the construction and sounds of particular languages they are actually learning the discourse procedures of their communities. The term also incorporates word meaning, grammar and pronunciations well as applying language aptly, verbally, written and non- verbal cues such as body language. (Book3, pg 201)

Metalinguistic awareness - Is a term used to define an individual’s ability to reflect on the use of language in with regards to clarifying the transfer of linguistic skills and knowledge across languages. When a language user’s metalinguistic awareness develops they start to create new and refined use of metaphors such as the simile “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get” they also begin to realise that statements can have an implied meaning as well as a factual meaning. They may even start to identify sarcasm along with contrariness which connects with an individual’s capability of telling and /or understanding jokes, manipulating language (Kerper, 2009)

Part 2

Children can acquire language as a result of imitation however it isn’t the initial method into language acquisition due to children demonstrating creative practice of language. (Book 3, pg 27)

Infants produce a variety of sounds during the initial year of their life in addition to experimenting with vocal play. (Book 3, pg 8) The rate of development differs between each child, for example it is rare for a child to skip the babbling stage, which usually occurs at the average age of 11months, and another factor that assists speech development is physiological maturation. (Book 3, pg9)

Benedict, 1979 cited in Book 3, pg19 researched development of vocabulary of a small group of children (8) during the course of six months. The findings demonstrated children’s ability to understand and create words between the ages of 10 months and on average 1 year 9 months. By the time the child is 11 months and 15 days they are usually attain a comprehension vocabulary of twenty words. The process of attaining words in production takes longer than it does in comprehension, comprehension can usually occurs 4 months before production.

With regards to ‘imitation’ the role of the caregiver (a term used for those individuals who spend the most time interacting with and looking after the child.) (Book 3, pg 11) much research has been done in this area whereby the emphasis is on a pair in this case it involves the child and their main caregiver, this is also known as a term called a dyad. The findings from this research revealed...
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