They Call it Developmental Psychology


Have you ever heard of the term ‘psychology’? This term surely is not unheard of. We are not going to plumb the deep depths of this ocean called psychology. We are going to just touch the surface of its water to get ourselves acquainted with what this ocean of psychology is all about with a sheer focus on ‘developmental psychology’.

A known psychologist, once upon a time, has said, “The other disciplines of sciences have their cardinal theories whereas the psychology’s foundations are built not on theory but of the rock of classic experiments.”

Developmental psychology is a purely scientific approach that aims to explain how a person, child or an adult, changes over time. It simply covers the psychological changes that normally take place in a human being throughout his/her growth starting from the mother’s cradle to the old age.

A child’s growth and development goes through scores of complex processes. There are different types of activities and processes involved that are crucial for a child’s creativity, cognitive skills, physical, socio-emotional and language development. We are going to dabble around with the language development in children.

Language Development in Infants

The Pa/ Ta/ Ka Study

The receptive language understanding has been a curious choice by many psychologists to study and get to the facts. How does an infant learn a language? This may also interest to all those who teach language to adults ranging from 25 to 45 or more. What are the facts of language development? When infants are around 12 months of age they begin to utter their first words, either Ba or Ma. And when these infants turn toddlers around their 36 months of age they have mastered thousand plus words. This proves that they have been exposed to the native language grammar intricacies. How is it possible? Grammar is a complicated system for any language learner. How does a toddler acquire it?

Here is the key. The acquisition of Native language Grammar, its knowledge and intricacies are acquired via mere exposure rather than by apparent instruction.

Let’s have a look at the Classic Study

The background to the language acquisition traces its roots to the research work of Chomsky (1957) which was later published in the monograph Syntactic Structures. All the natural languages that a child picks up in his or her toddler days share a small number of universal properties. By this, it also implies that the language acquisition doesn’t require a protracted period of development during which the child is exposed to.  Rather, brief snippets of the surface it’s just the trigger to learn and understand one language pattern to thereby applying it to the other language form. Chomsky’s presumed that the language can only be acquired by the operation of innate biases

What is the premise of innate biases?

The linguistics experts and the developmental researchers master Child Language directly. They observed a multi-year period of gradually increasing vocabulary and grammatical complexity. Chomsky’s claims about innate linguistic structures had virtually nothing to do with phonetics or phonology (Phonetics- The inventory of speech sounds and Phonology -how they are put together into words).

The two nativist perspectives- Chomsky at the level of syntax and Liberman at the level of phonetics- set the stage for a definitive test of innate constraints of language. It is because only

humans have a language faculty (efforts to train non-human animals). It’s worth to study on the facts the children younger than 12 months, while they begin to utter their first words.

In fact, a method that could be used with much younger infants would be preferable because a skeptic could argue that the unintelligible babbling of infants older than six months of age could serve as a kind of training device for matching the speech sounds in the listening environment with the inaccurate attempts to mimic those sounds by the infant.

References:

Developmental Psychology Revisiting The classic studies edited by Alan M Slater & Paul C Quinn

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