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    DOCUMENT RESUME

    FL 018 679

    Baron, Naomi Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words: The Role of Parents in Language Learning. Language in Education: Theory and Practice.

    Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.; ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Washington, D.C.

    Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC. ISBN-0-13-662875-3 90 RI88062010 143p.

    Information Analyses - ERIC Information Analysis Products (071) -- Books (010)

    MF01/PC06 Plus Postage. *Caregiver Speech; *Child Language; Grammar; *Language Acquisition; *Language Styles; Learning Processes; Parent Child Relationship; *Parent Role; Phonology; Sociolinguistics; Vocabulary Development

    IDENTIFIERS *Baby Talk

    ABSTRACT This 10-chapter monograph explores the range of

    influences parents have on their children's linguistic development and in the process attempts to understand why parents adopt the language styles they do in addressing children. The discussion focuses on the following three themes that are interwoven throughout the book: (1) the social nature of human language that drives parents to adopt a particular style of language with their children; (2) the importance of multiple variables in determining the precise effect a specific parent may have on the language of a particular child; and (3) the difference between direct and indirect effects on the learning process. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss variables that help shape linguistic interaction between parent and child. Chapter 3 examines the character and functioning of baby talk, and the next four chapters focus on how ad_lts influence their children's development of conversational skills, phonology, lexicon, and grammar. Chapter 8 turns to parental roles in the development of literacy and the place of television in language learning. Language problems (real and imagined) are the subject of chapter 9, and chapter 10 offers concluding remarks. (VWL)

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    Reproauctions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original document.

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    .1

  • Language in Education Theory and Practice

    Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words: The Role of Parents in

    Language Learning

    Naomi S. Baron

    A Publication of CAL Center for Applied Linguistics

    Prepared by the !ERICf Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics

    PRENTICE HALL REGENTS Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

    3

  • "7-

    Library of Congress Cataloging-In-Publication Data

    Baron, Naomi S. Pigeon-birds and rhyming words: the role of parents in language

    learning / Naomi S. Baron. p. cm. (Language in education; 75)

    "A publication of Center for Applied Linguistics prepared by the Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics."

    Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-13-662875.3 I. Language acquisitionParent participation. I. Center for

    Applied Linguistics. II. ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics. III. Title. IV. Series. PI18.B285 1991 401'.93dc20 90-7527

    CIP

    Language in Education: Theory and Practice 75

    This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and IMprovement, Department of Education, under contract No. RI 88062010. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or ED.

    Editorial/production supervision: Shari S. lbron Interiot design: Whitney Stewart

    Cover design: Wanda Lubelska Manufacturing buyer: Ray Keating

    01990 by the Center for Applied Linguistics and by Prentice-Hall Inc. a Division of Simon & Schuster Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher.

    Printed in the United States of America

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I

    ISBN O-13-662875-3

    PrenticeHall International (UK) Limited, London Prentice-Hall of Australia Pty. Limited. Sydney Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., Toronto PrenticeHall Hispanoamericana, S.A., Mexico Prentice-Hall of India Private Limited, New Delhi Prentice-Hall of Japan, Inc., Tokyo Simon & Schuster Asia Pte. Ltd., Singapore Editors Prentice-Hall do Brasil, Ltda., Rio de Janeiro

  • Language in Education: Theory and Practice

    ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) is a nationwide network of information centers, each responsible for a given educational level or field of study. ERIC is supported by the Office of Educational Research and improvement of the US. Department of Education. The basic objective of ERIC is to make current developments in educational research, instruction, and personnel preparation readily accessible to educators and members of related professions.

    ERIC/CLL is the ERIC Clearinghouse of Languages and Linguistics, one of the g dalized clearinghouses in the ERIC system, and is operated by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). ERIC/CLL is specifically responsible for the collection and dissemination of information on research in languages and linguistics and its application to language teaching and learning.

    The ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics (ERIC/CLL) publishes two monographs each year under the series title, Language in Education: Theory and Practice. ERIC/CLL commissions specialists to write about current issues in the fields of languages and linguistics. The series includes practical guides, state-of-the-art papers, theoretical reviews, and collected reports. The publications are intended for use by educators, researchers, and others interested in language education.

    This publication can be purchased directly from Prentice Hall Regents and will be available from the ERIC Document Reproduction vice, Alexandria, Virginia.

    For further information on the ERIC system, ERIC/CLL, and CAL/ Clearinghouse publications, write to Whitney Stewart, Series Editor, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Center for Applied Linguistics, 1118 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.

  • To Ma, whose role is yet to come

    6

  • Contents PREFACE I

    Ch _pter 1 CAN LANGUAGE BE TAUGHT? 5

    Chapter 2 LANGUAGE IN CONTEXT 11

    Chapter 3 THE BABY TALK QUESTION 18

    Chapter 4 THE LANGUAGE DUET: CONVERSATION AND IMITATION 35

    Chapter 5 I'D KNOW ThAT VOICE ANYWHERE: MODELING SOUNDS 51

    Chapter 6 THAT'S A PIGEON-BIRD: T IE GROWTH OF MEANING 59

    Chapter 7 WOULD YOU LIKE SOME UP?: PARENTS AND GRAMMAR 73

    Chapter 8 EXPANDED CONVERSATIONS: READING AND TELEVISION 92

    Chapter 9 PROBLEMS ILLUSORY AND ELUSIVE 107

    Chapter 10 CONCLUSIONS AND CHALLENGES 117

  • Baron

    Preface

    This is a book about child language acquisition. Its goal is to examine the role that parents can, do, and should play in the learning process. The book challenges a long-dominant assumption that first language acquisition by children is basically an autonomous affair, in which linguistic input from the surroune.ing community is largely irrelevant to a biologically determined sequence.

    The belief that language learrdng is essentially independent of environment was a necessary assumption of the Chomskyan school that dominated American linguistics during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. According to Chomsky, every newborncomes pre-packaged with a "language acquisition device" that, when combined with some raw data, generates successive models of grammar that drive the growing child's production and comprehen- sion of language (Chomsky, 1965).

    I vividly remember explaining this theory to one of my first classes on language acquisition: A group of women in their 30s and 40s mothers allwho were enrolled in an evening extension program. I was 26 years old and fresh out of graduate school. While I had done extensive research with preschoolers for my dissertation,my knowl- edge of language acquisition in very young children came largely from books. Halfway through my carefully prepared lecture, one mother of three interrupted: "Does this guy Chomsky have kids? Does he talk to them? You know, Prof, Chomsky's got it all wrong."

    A howl of approval went up in the classroom. In the face of these veterans' on-the-job experience, my book-learning paled. I knew I would need to rethink what really does go on linguistically between parent and child.

    8

  • Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words

    Since the early 1970s, a growing number of researchers have taken seriously the question of how parents speak to children. The initial studies of parental "baby talk" (also know as "motherese" or the more non-sexist "child directed speech") were largely empirical analyses of how middle-class American parents address their chil- dren. More recent studies have expanded this inquiry to ask whether the ways in which parents speak to children affect their subsequent rate and style of language learning.

    Pigeon-Birds and Rhyming Words explores die range of influences parents have upon their children's linguistic development. In the process, it attempts to understand why parents adopt the language styles they do in addressing children. The discussion is set in context of three basic themes woven throughout the chapters. The first is the social nature of human language that drives parents to adopt a particular style of la