“The input-output relationship in first language acquisition”. Kelli Wiseth. November 17, What research questions does the article address? In this article. Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and Language acquisition usually refers to first-language acquisition, which .. The statistical abilities are effective, but also limited by what qualifies as input, what is done with that input, and by the structure of the resulting output. The input-output relationship in first language acquisition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 21(), DOI: /
With stimuli, the person speaking to the learner models specific linguistic forms and patterns which the learner internalizes by imitating them. Behaviourist models of learning emphasize the possibility of shaping L2 acquisition by manipulating the input to provide appropriate stimuli and by ensuring that adequate feedback is always available.
Acquisition is thus controlled by external factors, and the learner is view as a passive medium Ellis a: According to the behaviourists, all learning, whether verbal or non-verbal, takes place through the same underlying process, habit formation. Learners receive linguistic input from speakers in their environment and positive reinforcement for their correct repetition and imitations.
As a result habits are formed. Because language development is described as the acquisition of a set of habits, it is assumed that the person learning a second language starts off with the habits associated with the first language. These habits interfere with those needed for second language speech, and new habits must be formed Lado For the behaviourist, errors are seen as first language habits interfering with the acquisition of second language habits.
The input-output relationship in first language acquisition
This has been linked to the contrastive analysis hypothesis CAH which predicts that where there are similarities between the two languages the learner will acquire target language structures with ease; where there are differences the learner will have difficulty.
It is not simply a matter of habits, but rather a systematical attempt by the learner to use knowledge already acquired in learning a new language. As in first language acquisition, the behaviourist account has proven to be an incomplete explanation of second language acquisition.
The interactionist theory has been applied to two rather different types of theory. Despite the differences, however, a common assumption can be seen to underline them. The second type of interactionist theory is more social in orientation. Interactionists claim that a crucial element in the language acquisition process is the modified input that learners are exposed to and the way in which native speakers interact in conversations with learners.
Proponents of the interactionist view such as Michael Long Long,p. However, they are more concerned with the question of how input is made comprehensible. They see interactional modifications which take place in conversations between native speakers and non-native speakers as a necessary mechanism for this to take place Long For Long and others, modified interaction must be necessary for language acquisition.
This relationship has been summarizes as follows: Therefore, 3- Interactional modification promotes acquisition. Long argues that there are no cases of beginning-level learners acquiring a second language from native-speaker talk which has not been modified in some way. In fact, research shows that native speakers consistently modify their speech in sustained conversation with non-native speakers.
Some examples of these conversational modifications are: She was walking home from school. Long justified the distinction on the basis that in L2 input one may find modification in the linguistic forms e. A number of researchers see comprehensible input as a major causative factor in L2 acquisition.
The most influential theoretical positions are those advanced by Krashen and Long. Long differs from Krashen primarily with regard to 3.
The input-output relationship in first language acquisition - edoc
While acknowledging that simplified input and context can play a role in making input comprehensible, Long stresses the importance of the interactional modifications that occur in negotiating meaning when a communication problem arises.
These theoretical claims have led to research into two aspects of input: Show that b comprehensible input promotes c acquisition. Of particular interest to researchers is the nature of the modifications that are most effective in promoting comprehension.
Parker and Chaudron review twelve experimental studies including Johnson ; Blau ; Cervantes ; R. Brown ; Chaudron and Richards of the effects of input modifications on comprehension and conclude that although linguistic modifications for example, simpler syntax and vocabulary helped comprehension they did not do so consistently.
They distinguish two types of elaborative modifications: They explain this unexpected result by suggesting that elaborative modifications will only benefit comprehension if the level of linguistic difficulty of the input does not exceed a certain threshold. Holobrow, Lambert, and Sayegh found that years old Canadian children comprehend better when they heard an oral text in their L1 and at the same time read an L2 version of the text than when they simultaneously heard and read texts in the L2 or when they just read L2 texts.
However, when Hawkins replicated this study with British undergraduate students of L2 French, he found that the bimodal condition i. After these studies, the issue of the role of the L1 in helping to make input comprehensible was raised.
In the case of interactive discourse, two variables have been found to influence comprehension: Studies on this field suggest that redundancy involving increased use of background details is not helpful to comprehension; this that not mean that other kinds of redundancy such as repetition are not helpful. Comprehension also appears to benefit from opportunities for negotiation of meaning. Pica, Young, and Doughty compared the effect of three types of input on the ability of sixteen low-intermediates ESL learners to comprehend oral instructions.
These types were 1 unmodified input i. The results showed that 3 resulted in the highest levels of comprehension. It should be noted that in all these studies the opportunity for negotiation led to considerable repetition and rephrasings with the result that 3 provided the learners with much more input than was available in 1 and 2.
It is not clear; therefore, whether the advantages found for the interactionally modified input arises from grater quantity of input or better quality i. It was found that learners rated as having lower comprehension ability by their teachers benefit from the opportunity to interact. To sum up, there is mixed evidence regarding the value of linguistically simplified input for promoting comprehension. Whereas speech rate does have a clear effect, grammatical modifications do not always result in improved comprehension.
Firmer support exists for the beneficial effect of interactionally modified input on comprehension. We should note, however, that the presence of interactional modifications is no guarantee that comprehension has taken place. A major debate in understanding language acquisition is how these capacities are picked up by infants from the linguistic input.
Nativists such as Noam Chomsky have focused on the hugely complex nature of human grammars, the finiteness and ambiguity of the input that children receive, and the relatively limited cognitive abilities of an infant. From these characteristics, they conclude that the process of language acquisition in infants must be tightly constrained and guided by the biologically given characteristics of the human brain.
Otherwise, they argue, it is extremely difficult to explain how children, within the first five years of life, routinely master the complex, largely tacit grammatical rules of their native language. In particular, there has been resistance to the possibility that human biology includes any form of specialization for language.
This conflict is often referred to as the " nature and nurture " debate. Of course, most scholars acknowledge that certain aspects of language acquisition must result from the specific ways in which the human brain is "wired" a "nature" component, which accounts for the failure of non-human species to acquire human languages and that certain others are shaped by the particular language environment in which a person is raised a "nurture" component, which accounts for the fact that humans raised in different societies acquire different languages.
The as-yet unresolved question is the extent to which the specific cognitive capacities in the "nature" component are also used outside of language. Social interactionist theory Social interactionist theory is an explanation of language development emphasizing the role of social interaction between the developing child and linguistically knowledgeable adults.
It is based largely on the socio-cultural theories of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotskyand made prominent in the Western world by Jerome Bruner.
Specifically, it asserts that much of a child's linguistic growth stems from modeling of and interaction with parents and other adults, who very frequently provide instructive correction.
Language acquisition - Wikipedia
Another key idea within the theory of social interactionism is that of the zone of proximal development. Briefly, this is a theoretical construct denoting the set of tasks a child is capable of performing with guidance, but not alone.
Relational frame theory[ edit ] Main article: Based upon the principles of Skinnerian behaviorismRFT posits that children acquire language purely through interacting with the environment. RFT theorists introduced the concept of functional contextualism in language learning, which emphasizes the importance of predicting and influencing psychological events, such as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, by focusing on manipulable variables in their context.
RFT distinguishes itself from Skinner's work by identifying and defining a particular type of operant conditioning known as derived relational responding, a learning process that, to date, appears to occur only in humans possessing a capacity for language. Empirical studies supporting the predictions of RFT suggest that children learn language via a system of inherent reinforcements, challenging the view that language acquisition is based upon innate, language-specific cognitive capacities.
According to these theories, neither nature nor nurture alone is sufficient to trigger language learning; both of these influences must work together in order to allow children to acquire a language. The proponents of these theories argue that general cognitive processes subserve language acquisition and that the end result of these processes is language-specific phenomena, such as word learning and grammar acquisition.
The findings of many empirical studies support the predictions of these theories, suggesting that language acquisition is a more complex process than many believe. In the s within the Principles and Parameters framework, this hypothesis was extended into a maturation-based Structure building model of child language regarding the acquisition of functional categories.
In this model, children are seen as gradually building up more and more complex structures, with Lexical categories like noun and verb being acquired before Functional- syntactic categories like determiner and complementiser. One influential proposal to the origin of these errors is as follows: In the developing child's mind, retrieval of that "block" may fail, causing the child to erroneously apply the regular rule instead of retrieving the irregular. In Bare-Phrase structure Minimalist Programsince theory-internal considerations define the specifier position of an internal-merge projection phases vP and CP as the only type of host which could serve as potential landing-sites for move-based elements displaced from lower down within the base-generated VP structure — e.
Internal-merge second-merge establishes more formal aspects related to edge-properties of scope and discourse-related material pegged to CP. See Roeper for a full discussion of recursion in child language acquisition. Generative grammarassociated especially with the work of Noam Chomskyis currently one of the approaches to children's acquisition of syntax.
In the principles and parameters framework, which has dominated generative syntax since Chomsky's Lectures on Government and Binding: The Pisa Lecturesthe acquisition of syntax resembles ordering from a menu: The child's input a finite number of sentences encountered by the child, together with information about the context in which they were uttered is, in principle, compatible with an infinite number of conceivable grammars.
Moreover, few, if any, children can rely on corrective feedback from adults when they make a grammatical error, due to the fact that adults generally provide feedback regardless of whether a child's utterance was grammatical or not, and children have no way of discerning if a response was intended to be a correction.
Additionally, when children do understand that they are being corrected, they don't always reproduce accurate restatements. An especially dramatic example is provided by children who, for medical reasons, are unable to produce speech and, therefore, can never be corrected for a grammatical error but nonetheless, converge on the same grammar as their typically developing peers, according to comprehension-based tests of grammar.
Binary parameters are common to digital computers, but may not be applicable to neurological systems such as the human brain. It is unclear that human language is actually anything like the generative conception of it. Since language, as imagined by nativists, is unlearnably complex,[ citation needed ] subscribers to this theory argue that it must, therefore, be innate. While all theories of language acquisition posit some degree of innateness, they vary in how much value they place on this innate capacity to acquire language.
Empiricism places less value on the innate knowledge, arguing instead that the input, combined with both general and language-specific learning capacities, is sufficient for acquisition.
The anti-nativist view has many strands, but a frequent theme is that language emerges from usage in social contexts, using learning mechanisms that are a part of a general cognitive learning apparatus which is what is innate.
This position has been championed by David M. Philosophers, such as Fiona Cowie  and Barbara Scholz with Geoffrey Pullum  have also argued against certain nativist claims in support of empiricism. The new field of cognitive linguistics has emerged as a specific counter to Chomskian Generative Grammar and Nativism. Statistical learning in language acquisition Some language acquisition researchers, such as Elissa NewportRichard Aslin, and Jenny Saffranemphasize the possible roles of general learning mechanisms, especially statistical learning, in language acquisition.
The development of connectionist models that are able to successfully learn words and syntactical conventions  supports the predictions of statistical learning theories of language acquisition, as do empirical studies of children's detection of word boundaries.
These findings suggest that early experience listening to language is critical to vocabulary acquisition. From the perspective of that debate, an important question is whether statistical learning can, by itself, serve as an alternative to nativist explanations for the grammatical constraints of human language.
Chunking[ edit ] Chunking theories of language acquisition constitute a group of theories related to statistical learning theories, in that they assume the input from the environment plays an essential role; however, they postulate different learning mechanisms. The central idea of these theories is that language development occurs through the incremental acquisition of meaningful chunks of elementary constituentswhich can be words, phonemesor syllables.
Recently, this approach has been highly successful in simulating several phenomena in the acquisition of syntactic categories  and the acquisition of phonological knowledge.
They showed that toddlers develop their own individual rules for speaking with slots, into which they could put certain kinds of words. A significant outcome of the research was that rules inferred from toddler speech were better predictors of subsequent speech than traditional grammars. Language acquisition almost always occurs in children during a period of rapid increase in brain volume.
At this point in development, a child has many more neural connections than he or she will have as an adult, allowing for the child to be more able to learn new things than he or she would be as an adult. It has been determined, through empirical research on developmentally normal children, as well as through some extreme cases of language deprivation, that there is a " sensitive period " of language acquisition in which human infants have the ability to learn any language.
Several findings have observed that from birth until the age of six months, infants can discriminate the phonetic contrasts of all languages.