I.  Mastering language

            A.  What Must be Mastered?

                        1.  Language-- communication system of limited sounds, letters, gestures,

                             combined in agreed upon rules and produces infinite number of messages

                        2.  Key aspects of language to be mastered

                                    a.  phonology-- sound system of language (phonemes)

                                    b.  morphology-- rules for formation of words from sounds

                                    c.  syntax-- rules of language, including formation of sentences

                                    d.  semantics-- meaning of words or symbols of a language

                                                necessary for interpreting sentences and paragraphs

                                    e.  pragmatics-- rules specifying appropriate use of language

                                    f.  non-verbal communication skills (e.g., tone of voice, gestures)

                                    g.  intonation-- variation in loudness, pitch, timing

            B.  The Course of Language Development

                        1.  Before the first words

                                    a.  can distinguish phonemes prior to speaking

                                    b.  sensitive to placements of pauses in speech

                                    c.  early sensitivity to phonology and rules of grammar

                                    d.  early sounds include cries, burps, grunts

                                    e.  early vocalization exercises vocal chords

                                    f.  parents tend to respond as if infant attempting to genuinely


                                    g.  nonverbal “dance” between infant and caregiver related to later


                                    h.  cooing-- repeating vowel-like sound “aaah”

                                    i.   babbling-- consonant-vowel combination “baaah”

                                    j.   deaf children show delay in language development

                                    k.  intonation patterns learned during infancy

                                    l.  comprehension precedes expression

                                    m. joint attention-- infant and parent attend to vocalization and visual

                                         image at same time

                                    n.  infants tend to assume that word refers to whole object rather than part

                                         of an object

                        2.  The first words

                                    a.  holophrases-- single words convey many things

                                                tone of voice and gestures help

                                    b.  early language focuses on naming, questioning, requesting and

                                         demanding acquired

                                    c.  use of symbols (including gestures) begins

                                    d.  most words are nouns (e.g., objects and people)

                                    e.  vocabulary spurt around 18 months

                                                18 months (30-50 words), 24 months (300 words)

                                    f.  overextension-- use word too broadly (e.g., “dog” for all 4-legged


                                    g.  underextension-- use word too narrowly (e.g., “dog” for only the family

                                         pet and no other dogs)

                                                over- and underextension due to small vocabularies

                                    h.  large individual variations

                                                i.    referential style-- lots of nouns

                                                ii.    expressive-- lots of personal pronouns and social routines

                                    i.  culture exerts influence on language

                                                infants learning Korean produce more verbs

                        3. Telegraphic speech

                                    a.  18 to 24 months combine two or three words in simple sentences

                                                i.    sentences contain critical content and omit frills

                                                ii.    follow systematic rules

                                    b.  functional grammar-- emphasizes semantic relationship between words

                                    c.  major advancement between ages 2 and 5 years

                        d.  overregularization-- applying rules to exceptions

                                    says foots or goed

                                    e.  transformational grammar-- rules of syntax for sentence forms

                                    f.  rules for questioning

                                                i.    two- or three-words sentences with rising intonation

                                                ii.    use auxiliary or helping verbs

                                                iii.   move auxiliary verb ahead of subject

                                    g.  by age 5-6 children’s sentences become more adult like

            C.  Later Language Development

                        Changes in adolescences and beyond

                                    a.  improved pronunciation, sentence complexity, vocabulary, ability to                                           manipulate language

                                    b.  decontextualized language-- can move beyond present to past and


                                    c.  metalinguistic awareness--  increased knowledge of language itself

                        d.  knowledge of phonology and grammar usually retained in adulthood

                                    e.  knowledge of semantics (word meaning) continues well into adulthood

                                    f.  refinement of linguistic pragmatics (ability to adjust language to fit

                                         social situations) in adulthood

            D.  How Language Develops

                        1.  The learning perspective

                                    a.  Bandura-- observation, imitation

                                    b.  Skinner-- language acquisition dependent on reinforcement

                                                i.    explains why children speak with regional accent

                                                ii.    explains why children learn the language spoken to them

                                                iii.   hard to account for acquisition of syntactical rules

                                                iv.   saying “repeat after me” to a child not a good idea

                        2.  The nativist perspective

                                    a.  language acquisition device (LAD)-- area of the brain assisting in

                                         acquisition of universal features of language

                                                i.    Broca’s area in frontal lobe controls speech

                                                ii.    Wernicke’s area controls speech recognition

                                    b.  supporting evidence includes rapid rate of acquisition of language and

                                         similar stages of progression

                                    c.  fact that some primates have primitive language skills supports idea of

                                         genetic component

                                    d.  ideas based on three assumptions that may be inaccurate

                                                i.    only requirement of language is exposure to speech

                                                ii.    highly powerful brain needed to detect subtle distinctions that

                                                      underlie language

                                                iii.   adults provide little feedback on language competence

                        3.  The interactionist perspective

                                    a.  combination of learning and nativist position (not unlike that taken by


                                                i.    biological competence critical

                                                ii.    maturation of cognitive abilities critical

                                                iii.   social experience critical

                                                iv.   adults create supportive learning environment

                                    b.  child-directed speech-- style of speech used by adults when talking

                                         with children

                                                i.    simple short sentences

                                                ii.    repetition and high pitch voice (with exaggerated emphasis on


                                                iii.   infants pay attention to high-pitched sounds and varied

                                                      intonation patterns

                                    c.  ability to pick up grammar requires more than exposure

                                    d.  expansion-- adult method for improving language by encouraging \                                             children  to expand on their verbalizations

                                         also provide subtle corrective feedback

                        4.  A critical period for language?

                                    a.  complete mastery best with early exposure to language

                                    b.  second language learned best if exposure occurs before puberty

                                                language processing area of the brain may be shaped by early

                                                experience, but no “hard-and-fast” critical period for language


II.  The infant

            A.  Mastery Motivation-- Intrinsic (Internal) Motivation to Succeed

                        1.  Infants intrinsically motivated to master environment

                        2.  Key influences on mastery motivation

                                    a.  sensory stimulation

                                    b.  responsive environment that teach child they can control environment

                                                returning smiles, promptly responding to cries

                        3.  Early mastery affects later achievement

            B.  Early Education

                        1.  No need to provide special early childhood experiences

                                    too much early stimulation may be detrimental

                                                more anxious, negative attitudes toward school, less creative

                        2.  Early childhood program can be especially beneficial to disadvantaged children

                                    a.  best programs offer mix of play and academic skill building

                                                i.    Abecedarian Project-- fulltime infancy educational program

                                                ii.    show improvement during and after program

                                    b.  best programs get parents involved with their children


III.  The child

            A.  Achievement Motivation

                        1.  Mastery orientation-- drive to succeed despite challenge

                                    a.  blame failure on external factors

                                    b.  credit success to internal factors

                        2.  Learned helplessness-- tendency to avoid challenges (give-up)

                                    a.  blame failure on internal factors

                                    b.  credit success to external factors

                        3.  Age differences

                                    a.  before age 7

                                                i.    unrealistic optimism even after poor performance

                                                ii.    equate hard work with success/gains in intelligence

                                                iii.  adopt learning goals-- drive to learn new things to improve


                                    b.  older children

                                                i.    performance goals-- emphasis on proving ability rather than

                                                      improve ability

                                                ii.    focus on learning goals continues to be beneficial

                        4.  Parent contributions

                                    a.  key to stress independence and self-reliance

                                    b.  emphasize importance of doing well

                                    c.  provide cognitively stimulating home

                                    d.  lack of involvement, nagging, lack of guidance, bribes for good grades,

                                         and criticizing bad grades detrimental

                        5.  School contributions

                                    a.  overemphasis on academics (grades) may undermine achievement


                                    b.  learning goals better than performance goals

                                    c.  school impact enhanced or hindered by at-home environment

                                    d.  school climate can impact achievement

                                                greatest benefit when schools encourage family involvement

            B.  Learning to Read-- Critical as it Underlies Acquisition of Other Academic Skills

                        1.  Mastering the Alphabetic principle-- idea that printed letters represent words

                                    Ehri’s four-step process

                                                i.    prealphabetic phase-- memorize specific visual cues (e.g.,

                                                      specific words)

                                                ii.    partial alphabetic phase-- learns shapes and letter sounds

                                                      (phonological awareness-- sensitivity to sound system of a

                                                      language (helps decipher new words)

                                                iii.   full alphabetic phase-- phonological awareness of a language’s

                                                      sound system (includes sight reading)

                                                iv.   consolidation alphabet phase-- letters regularly occurring

                                                      together become grouped as a unit

                        2.  Emergent literacy-- developmental precursors of reading skills (knowledge,

                              skills, attitudes)

                                    a.  reading experience, repetition, critical

                                    b.  rhyming stories foster phonological awareness

                                    c.  preschool emergent literacy skills provide fairly accurate idea of later

                                         reading skills

                        3.  Skilled and unskilled readers

                                    a.  phonological awareness level critical

                                    b.  must first connect sound to letter

                                    c.  dyslexia-- reading disability

                                                i.    difficulty distinguishing similar letters

                                                ii.    more problems in auditory perception versus visual perception

                                                iii.   show deficiencies in phonological awareness

                                                iv.   may be perceptual deficit due to prenatal brain damage

                                                v.  life-long disability

                        4.  How should reading be taught?

                                    a.  phonetic approach (code oriented) versus whole-word (look-say)

                                    b.  phonetics may be more important

                                                i.    computer games focused on distinguishing hard-to-distinguish

                                                      sounds may improve phonetic performance

                                                ii.    whole-word method also important

            C.  Effective Schools

                        1.  Less important factors

                                    a.  level of funding

                                                money directly at classrooms may increase performance

                                    b.  average class size

                                                tutoring or one-on-one may be beneficial

                                    c.  amount of time spent in school

                                    d.  ability grouping-- segregating high and low ability students

                        2.  Factors that matter

                                    a.  students

                                                i.    may be affected by genetic factors

                                                ii.    schools with economically advantaged children do better

                                                iii.   high achieving parents provide genes and may select stronger


                                    b.  teachers

                                                better quality teachers

                                    c.  strong emphasis on academics

                                    d.  task-oriented but comfortable environment

                                    e.  effective discipline

                                    f.  supportive parents and communities

                                    g.  goodness of fit-- match between learner and teaching method

                                                i.    highly distractible students best with computer-assisted


                                                ii.    more positive outcomes when teacher and student share similar



IV.  The adolescent

            A.  Declining Levels of Achievement

                        teens (especially in grades 6-9) tend to become less dedicated to academics

                        1.  Family characteristics impact achievement

                                    a.  poorer performance in minority and single-parent families

                                    b.  poorer performance when mom less educated or has a mental disorder

                        2.  Cognitive growth

                                    more realistic view of academic abilities

                        3.  Negative feedback

                                    a.  increase in criticism contributes to declines in motivation

                                    b.  must learn effort alone is not good enough

                        4.  Peer pressures

                                    a.  especially negative impact on academics in lower-income minority


                                                i.    thought of by peers as “acting white”

                                                ii.    culture may not value academics

                                    b.  parental valuing of academics may cancel negative peer impact

                        5.  Pubertal changes

                                    a.  physical and psychological changes may contribute to difficulty in


                                    b.  new school more important than time of transition from one school to

                                         the next

                        6.  Poor person-environment fit

                                    a.  most negative impact if child’s developmental needs do not match well

                                         with school environment

                                    b.  declines in performance not inevitable

                                    c.  supportive teachers critical

            B.  Science and Math Education

                        1.  Skills necessary for an industrialized society

                        2.  Students in the United States score above average (but not at top level) on tests

                             of math and science ability

3.      Poorer cross-cultural showing of US students mainly due to cultural

differences in attitudes concerning education and academics (especially when compared to Asian students)

                                    a.  Asian students spend more time in school

                                    b.  Asian students receive more homework

                                    c.  Asian parents show strong commitment to education

                                    d.  Asian peers tend to have higher value for achievement

                                    e.  Asian student have strong belief that hard work will pay off

            C.  Integrating Work and School

                        1.  Many United States and Canadian children work outside of school

                        2.  Working students (at least 20 hours per week) positive and negative effects

                                    a.  greater self-reliance and autonomy from parents

                                    b.  lower GPAs

                                    c.  more bored and prone to skip class

                                    d.  greater risk for psychological distress

                                    e.  disenchanted students more disenchanted when working more hours

                                    f.  working associated with lower levels of achievement

                                    g.  some studies have found few negative impacts of employment

                                    h.  working routine and repetitive jobs that do not call on academic skills

                                    i.  intellectually challenging jobs may be of some benefit

            D.  Pathways to Adulthood

                        1.  Choices somewhat constrained by intelligence levels

                        2.  Dropping out of high school can negatively impact career path

                        3.  Pathway to “high success” or “low success” career routes begins in childhood


V.  The adult

            A.  Achievement Motivation

                        1.  Achievement motivation stable through adulthood

                        2.  Women with higher levels of education more likely to be motivated to achieve

                             career success

                        3.  More affected by changing work and family contexts than by age

            B.  Literacy-- Ability to Use Printed Information to Function

                        1.  22% of adults in United States at lowest level of literacy

                                    a.  one quarter are immigrants learning English as second language

                                    b.  about two-thirds do not finish high school

                                    c.  U.S. also has some of the most highly literate adults

                        2.  Literacy important to economic security

                        3.  Programs to raise literacy in adults are rarely effective

                                    a.  problems in motivation

                                    b.  do not stay in programs long enough

                                    c.  materials often geared toward children

            C.  Continuing Education

                        1.  Many adults seeking higher education

                                    40% of college students are 25 or older

                        2.  Older students more likely to be motivated by internal factors

                                    internal motivation leads to deeper understanding (better retention)

                        3.  Lifelong education difficult to fit into schedule