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ASIC-IFDC-PROFESORADO DE INGLS

General Linguistics
Julio, Pablo Eduardo.
Albornoz, Mauricio.
Torres, Gabriela.
2015
1. What is Psycholinguistics?
Psycholinguistics or psychology of language
is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire,
use, comprehend and produce language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely
philosophical or educational schools of thought, due mainly to their location in
departments other than applied sciences (e.g., cohesive data on how the human brain
functioned). Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive, linguistics,
and information science to study how the brain processes language, and less so the
known processes of social sciences, human development, communication theories
and infant development, among others.
2. Theories of language acquisition
There are essentially two schools of thought as to how children acquire or learn language, and
there is still much debate as to which theory is the correct one. Jean Piagets theory states that all
language must be learned by the child. The second view, that of Noam Chomsky, states that the
abstract system of language cannot be learned, but that humans possess an innate language
faculty (innatist perspective), or an access to what has been called universal grammar.
3. Language comprehension
One question in the realm of language comprehension is how people understand sentences as they
read (also known as sentence processing). Typically these theories are concerned with what types
of information contained in the sentence the reader can use to build meaning, and at what point in
reading does that information become available to the reader. Issues such as "modular" versus
"interactive" processing have been theoretical divides in the field.
A modular view of sentence processing assumes that the stages involved in reading a sentence
function independently in separate modules. These modulates have limited interaction with one
another. For example, one influential theory of sentence processing, the garden-path theory,[ states
that syntactic analysis takes place first. Under this theory as the reader is reading a sentence, he or
she creates the simplest structure possible in order to minimize effort and cognitive load.
In contrast to a modular account, an interactive theory of sentence processing, such as a constraintbased lexical approach assumes that all available information contained within a sentence can be
processed at any time. Under an interactive account, for example, the semantics of a sentence
(such as plausibility) can come into play early on in order to help determine the structure of a
sentence

4. L1 Acquisition: Main referent.


Cognitive Theory
Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist that was famous for his four stages of cognitive development
for children, which included the development of language. However,
children do not think like adults and so before they can begin to
develop language they must first actively construct their own
understanding of the world through their interactions with their
environment. A child has to understand a concept before he or she
can acquire the particular language which expresses that concept.
Essentially it is impossible for a young child to voice concepts that are
unknown to them and therefore once a child learns about their
environment then they can map language onto their prior experience.
Cognitivists believe that language emerges within the context of other
general cognitive abilities like memory, attention and problem solving
because it is a part of their broader intellectual development.
Piaget focused on two processes, which he named assimilation and accommodation. To Piaget,
Assimilation meant integrating external elements into structures of lives or environments, or those
we could have through experience. Is how humans perceive and adapt to new information. It is the
process of fitting new information into pre-existing cognitive schemas. Accommodation is the
process of taking new information in one's environment and altering pre-existing schemas in order
to fit in the new information. This happens when the existing schema (knowledge) does not work,
and needs to be changed to deal with a new object or situation.
Piaget's understanding was that assimilation and accommodation cannot exist without the
other. They are two sides of a coin. To assimilate an object into an existing mental schema, one first
needs to take into account or accommodate to the particularities of this object to a certain extent.

There are four stages of Piaget's cognitive development theory, each involving a different
aspect of language acquisition.

1. Sensory-Motor Period- (birth to 2 years) Children are born with "action schemas"
to "assimilate" information about the world such as sucking or grasping. During the
sensory-motor period, children's language is "egocentric" and they talk either for
themselves or for the pleasure of associating anyone who happens to be there
with the activity of the moment
2. Pre-Operational Period- (2 years to 7) Children's language makes rapid progress
and the development of their "mental schema" lets them quickly "accommodate"
new words and situations. Children's language becomes "symbolic" allowing them
to talk beyond the "here and now" and to talk about things such as the past, future
and feelings.
3. Egocentrism- Involves "animism" which refers to young children's tendency to
consider everything, including inanimate objects, as being alive. Language is
considered egocentric because they see things purely from their own perspective.
4. Operational Period- (7 to 11 years) and (11 years to adulthood) Piaget divides this
period into two parts: the period of concrete operations and the period of formal
operations. Language at this stage reveals the movement of their thinking from
immature to mature and from illogical to logical. They are also able to "de-center"
or view things from a perspective other than their own. It is at this point that
children's language becomes "socialized" and includes things such as questions,
answers, commands and criticisms.

4.1. Second Language Acquisition


Second-language acquisition, second-language learning, or L2 acquisition, is the process by which
people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition (often abbreviated to SLA) also refers to
the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process. Second language refers to any language
learned in addition to a person's first language; although the concept is named second-language

acquisition, it can also incorporate the learning of third, fourth, or subsequent languages. Secondlanguage acquisition refers to what learners do; it does not refer to practices in language teaching,
although teaching can affect acquisition.
4.2 Stages of SLA

I- The first stage is preproduction, also known as the silent period. Learners at this stage
have a receptive vocabulary of up to 500 words, but they do not yet speak their second
language. Not all learners go through a silent period. Some learners start speaking straight
away, although their output may consist of imitation rather than creative language use.
II- The second stage of acquisition is early production, during which learners are able to
speak in short phrases of one or two words. They can also memorize chunks of language,
although they may make mistakes when using them. Learners typically have both an
active and receptive vocabulary of around 1000 words. This stage normally lasts for
around six months.
III- The third stage is speech emergence. Learners' vocabularies increase to around 3000 words during
this stage, and they can communicate using simple questions and phrases. They may often make
grammatical errors. The stage after speech emergence is intermediate fluency. At this stage, learners
have a vocabulary of around 6000 words, and can use more complicated sentence structures. They are
also able to share their thoughts and opinions.

4.3. Differences between L1 and L2


L1 Learning

Age

Ways of
learnin
g

Baby to young child (L1


learning lasts into
adolescence for some
kinds of language and
language skills e.g.
academic writing.
By exposure to and
picking up language.
By wanting and needing to
communicate i.e. with
strong motivation.
Through interaction with
family and friends.
By talking about things
present in the childs
surroundings.
By listening to and talking
in language for many
months before using it
(silent period).
By playing and
experimenting with new
language.

L2 Learning (In the classroom)

Usually at primary school and/or


secondary school. It can also start or
continue in adulthood.

Sometimes through exposure but often


by being taught specific language.
With strong, little or no motivation.
Through interaction with a teacher and
sometimes with classmates.
Often by talking about life outside the
classroom.
Often by needing to produce language
soon after it has been taught.
Often by using language in controlled
practice activities.

Context

The child hears the


language around him/ her
all the time.
Family and friends talk to
and interact with the child
a lot.
The child has lots of
opportunities to
experiment with language.
Caretakers often praise
(tell the child he/she has
done well) and encourage
the childs use of
language.
Caretakers simplify their
speech to the child.
Caretakers rarely correct
the form and accuracy of
what the child says in an
obvious way.

The learner is not exposed to the L2


very much-Often no more than about 3
hours per week.
Teachers usually simplify their
language.
Teachers vary in the amount they praise
or encourage learners.
The learner receives little individual
attention from the teacher.
Teachers generally correct learners a
lot.

5. Interlanguage.
Its a creative process driven by inner forces in interaction with the environmental factors and
influenced both by L1and input from the L2.
It refers to an intermediate state of a learners language as it moves towards the target L2.
It has the following characteristics:

Systematically governed by rules which constitute the learners internal grammar. These
rules are discoverable by analyzing the language that is used.
Dynamic: the system of rules which learners have in their minds change frequently or is
in a state of flexibility , resulting in a succession of internal grammar.
Variable: differences in context result in different patterns of language use.
Reduced system: both information and function less complex grammatical structures.

6. Biography Consulted.

SPRATT, M. PULVERNESS,A. & MELANIE, W. (2005) The TKT Teaching


Knowledge Test Course. U.K,University Press, Cambridge.

ROD, E. (1994).The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University


Press.

Web Pages
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget.
https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Psycholinguistics/Theories_and_Models_of_Language_Acquisiti
on.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget's_theory_of_cognitive_development.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-language_acquisition