Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Dr. Santhosh Areekkuzhiyil
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Educational Psychology
Govt. College of teaqcher Education, Thalassery
Most humans develop their ability to create and exchange language easily and naturally. We learn our native language in the first years of life, without any special training. All normal humans in all cultures go through roughly the same stages of language development, which suggests the unfolding of a biologically guided process. On the other hand, the great variety of human language shows that much depends on experience. Normal language development, like virtually all human behavior, involves a complex interplay between learned and inherited factors.
Language development is a process starting early in human life, when a person begins to acquire language by learning it as it is spoken and by mimicry. Children's language development moves from simple to complex. Usually, language starts off as recall of simple words without associated meaning, but as children grow, words acquire meaning, with connections between words formed. In time, sentences start as words are joined together to create logical meaning. As a person gets older, new meanings and new associations are created and vocabulary increases as more words are learned.
Infants use their bodies, vocal cries and other preverbal vocalizations to communicate their wants, needs and dispositions. Even though most children begin to vocalize and eventually verbalize at various ages and at different rates, they learn their first language without conscious instruction from parents or caretakers. It is a seemingly effortless task that grows increasingly difficult with age. Of course, before any learning can begin, the child must be biologically and socially mature enough.
Language Learning in Babies
Language learning begins before birth. A baby in the mother's womb hears noises from the outside environment and becomes sensitized to language sounds. Newborns respond to language sounds from any language, not just their own. However, by the age of one year, a baby's response to phonemes becomes more selective. They stop responding to phonemes that are absent from their own linguistic environment. (Kuhl, Williams, Lacerda, Stevens and Lindblom, 1992). Babies who are born deaf do not show phoneme sensitivity, but they show all the other stages of language development when they learn to use sign language. This shows that language development is "built in" to humans, and it also shows that language does not depend on speaking or hearing words. The essence of human language is expression of meaning in a symbolic code.
Stages of Language Development
Language development typically goes through the following sequence of stages:
1. Phoneme perception: Babies who can hear become sensitive primarily to sounds in their own language.
2. Cooing: Babies produce soft vocalizations around 3 months of age
3. Babbling: The 6 month old begins to play with language sounds (for example, "Ba-ba-ba.") Deaf babies babble with their hands.
4: First words and holophrases: Around 9 months of age, toddlers use single words (holophrases) to make requests or express feelings. For example, "Doot!" might mean "Get me juice!" The same word might be applied to many things (which is called overextension ). Any animal might be called "doggie."
5. Protosentences: Around a year and a half of age (18 months) toddlers produce two-word sentences, such as "Mommy go" or "Daddy go." Vocabulary starts to grow rapidly at this age.
6. Telegraphic speech: Sentences increase in length, but small connective words like "and" or "the" are left out. Bigger words are simplified. A two year old might say, "You go bye-bye car?" instead of "Are you going bye-bye in the car?"
Language Development Chart
Age of Child
Typical Language Development
Vocalization with intonation
Responds to his name
Responds to human voices without visual cues by turning his head and eyes
Responds appropriately to friendly and angry tones
Uses one or more words with meaning (this may be a fragment of a word)
Understands simple instructions, especially if  vocal or physical cues are given
Practices inflection
Is aware of the social value of speech
Has vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words
Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns
Some echolalia (repeating a word or phrase over and over)
Much jargon with emotional content
Is able to follow simple commands
Can name a number of objects common to his surroundings
Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under
Combines words into a short sentence-largely noun-verb combinations (mean) length of sentences is given as 1.2 words
Approximately 2/3 of what child says should be intelligible
Vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words
Rhythm and fluency often poor
Volume and pitch of voice not yet well-controlled
Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, you, although me and I are often confused
My and mine are beginning to emerge
Responds to such commands as "show me your eyes (nose, mouth, hair)"
Use pronouns I, you, me correctly
Is using some plurals and past tenses
Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under
Knows chief parts of body and should be able to indicate these if not name
Handles three word sentences easily
Has in the neighborhood of 900-1000 words
About 90% of what child says should be intelligible
Verbs begin to predominate
Understands most simple questions dealing with his environment and activities
Relates his experiences so that they can be followed with reason
Able to reason out such questions as "what must you do when you are sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?"
Should be able to give his sex, name, age
Should not be expected to answer all questions even though he understands what is expected
Knows names of familiar animals
Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate his understanding of their     meaning when given commands
Names common objects in picture books or magazines
Knows one or more colors
Can repeat 4 digits when they are given slowly
Can usually repeat words of four syllables
Demonstrates understanding of over and under
Has most vowels and diphthongs and the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established
Often indulges in make-believe
Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities
Understands such concepts as longer, larger, when a contrast is presented
Readily follows simple commands even thought the stimulus objects are not in sight
Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds
Can use many descriptive words spontaneously-both adjectives and adverbs
Knows common opposites: big-little, hard-soft, heave-light, etc
Has number concepts of 4 or more
Can count to ten
Speech should be completely intelligible, in spite of articulation problems
Should have all vowels and the consonants, m,p,b,h,w,k,g,t,d,n,ng,y (yellow)
Should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words
Should be able to define common objects in terms of use (hat, shoe, chair)
Should be able to follow three commands given without interruptions
Should know his age
Should have simple time concepts: morning, afternoon, night, day, later, after, while
Tomorrow, yesterday, today
Should be using fairly long sentences and should use some compound and some    complex sentences
Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct
In addition to the above consonants these should be mastered: f, v, sh, zh, th,1
He should have concepts of  7
Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships
Between objects and happenings
Should have mastered the consonants s-z, r, voiceless th, ch, wh, and the soft g as in George
Should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp short-long, sweet-sour, etc
Understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc
Should be able to tell time to quarter hour
Should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words
Can relate rather involved accounts of events, many of which occurred at some time in  the past
Complex and compound sentences should be used easily
Should be few lapses in grammatical constrictions-tense, pronouns, plurals
All speech sounds, including consonant blends should be established
Should be reading with considerable ease and now writing simple compositions
Social amenities should be present in his speech in appropriate situations
Control of rate, pitch, and volume are generally well and appropriately established
Can carry on conversation at rather adult level
Follows fairly complex directions with little repetition
Has well developed time and number concepts

Factors Influencing Language Development
            Language development is influenced by many factors.
1. Biological preconditions
Linguists do not all agree on the biological factors contributing to language development, however most do agree that our ability to acquire such a complicated system is specific to the human species. Furthermore, our ability to learn language may have been developed through the evolutionary process and that the foundation for language may be passed down genetically. The ability to speak and understand language requires a certain vocal apparatus as well as a nervous system with certain capabilities.
2. Environmental Influences
"The behavioral view of language development is no longer considered a viable explanation of how children acquire language, yet a great deal of research describes ways in which a children's environmental experiences influence their language skills. Michael Tomasello (2003, 2006; Tomasello & Carpenter, 2007) stresses that young children are intensely interested in their social world and that early in their development they can understand that intentions of other people."
One component of the young child's linguistic environment is (child-direct speech) which is language spoken in a higher pitch than normal with simple words and sentences. It has the important function of capturing the infant's attention and maintaining communication. Adults use strategies other than child-direct speech like recasting, expanding, and labeling. Recasting is rephrasing something the child has said, perhaps turning it into a question or restating the child's immature utterance in the form of a fully grammatical sentence. Expandingis the restating, in a linguistically sophisticated form, what a child has said. Labeling is identifying the names of objects.

3. Social preconditions

It is crucial that children are allowed to socially interact with other people who can vocalize and respond to questions. For language acquisition to develop successfully, children must be in an environment that allows them to communicate socially in that language.
There are a few different theories as to why and how children develop language. The most popular explanation is that language is acquired through imitation. However, this proves to be more of a folk tale than anything. The two most accepted theories in language development are psychological and functional. Psychological explanations focus on the mental processes involved in childhood language learning. Functional explanations look at the social processes involved in learning the first language.
There are four main components of language:
  • Phonology involves the rules about the structure and sequence of speech sounds.
  • Semantics consists of vocabulary and how concepts are expressed through words.
  • Grammar involves two parts. The first, syntax, is the rules in which words are arranged into sentences. The second, morphology, is the use of grammatical markers (indicating tense, active or passive voice etc.).
  • Pragmatics involves the rules for appropriate and effective communication. Pragmatics involves three skills:
    • using language for greeting, demanding etc.
    • changing language for talking differently depending on who it is you are talking to
    • following rules such as turn taking, staying on topic
Each component has its own appropriate developmental periods.

Phonological development

From birth to around one year, the baby starts to make speech sounds. At around two months, the baby will engage in cooing, which mostly consists of vowel sounds. At around four months, cooing turns into babbling which are the repetitive consonant-vowel combinations. Babies understand more than they are able to say.
From 1–2 years, babies can recognize the correct pronunciation of familiar words. Babies will also use phonological strategies to simplify word pronunciation. Some strategies include repeating the first consonant-vowel in a multisyllable word ('TV'--> 'didi') or deleting unstressed syllables in a multisyllable word ('banana'-->'nana'). By 3–5 years, phonological awareness continues to improve as well as pronunciation.
By 6–10 years, children can master syllable stress patterns which helps distinguish slight differences between similar words.

Semantic development

From birth to one year, comprehension (the language we understand) develops before production (the language we use). There is about a 5 month lag in between the two. Babies have an innate preference to listen to their mother's voice. Babies can recognize familiar words and use preverbal gestures.
From 1–2 years, vocabulary grows to several hundred words. There is a vocabulary spurt between 18–24 months, which includes fast mapping. Fast mapping is the babies' ability to learn a lot of new things quickly. The majority of the babies' new vocabulary consists of object words (nouns) and action words (verbs). By 3–5 years, children usually have difficulty using words correctly. Children experience many problems such as underextensions, taking a general word and applying it specifically (for example, 'blankie')and overextensions, taking a specific word and applying it too generally (example, 'car' for 'van'). However, children coin words to fill in for words not yet learned (for example, someone is a cooker rather than a chef because a child will not know what a chef is). Children can also understand metaphors.
From 6–10 years, children can understand meanings of words based on their definitions. They also are able to appreciate the multiple meanings of words and use words precisely through metaphors and puns. Fast mapping continues.

Grammatical development

From 1–2 years, children start using telegraphic speech, which are two word combinations, for example 'wet diaper'. Brown (1973) observed that 75% of children's two-word utterances could be summarised in the existence of 11 semantic relations:
Eleven important early semantic relations and examples based on Brown 1973:
  • Attributive: 'big house'
  • Agent-Action: 'Daddy hit'
  • Action-Object: 'hit ball'
  • Agent-Object: 'Daddy ball'
  • Nominative: 'that ball'
  • Demonstrative: 'there ball'
  • Recurrence: 'more ball'
  • non-existence: 'all-gone ball'
  • Possessive: 'Daddy chair'
  • Entity + Locative: 'book table'
  • Action + Locative: 'go store'
At around 3 years, children engage in simple sentences, which are 3 word sentences. Simple sentences follow adult rules and get refined gradually. Grammatical morphemes get added as these simple sentences start to emerge. By 3–5 years, children continue to add grammatical morphemes and gradually produce complex grammatical structures. By 6–10 years, children refine the complex grammatical structures such as passive voice.

Pragmatics development

From birth to one year, babies can engage in joint attention (sharing the attention of something with someone else). Babies also can engage in turn taking activities. By 1–2 years, they can engage in conversational turn taking and topic maintenance. At ages 3–5, children can master illocutionary intent, knowing what you meant to say even though you might not have said it and turnabout, which is turning the conversation over to another person.
By age 6-10, shading occurs, which is changing the conversation topic gradually. Children are able to communicate effectively in demanding settings, such as on the telephone.

Theoretical frameworks of language development

There are four major theories of language development.
1. Behaviorist Theory
The behaviorist theory, proposed by B. F. Skinner (father of behaviorism) says that language is learned through operant conditioning (reinforcement and imitation). This perspective sides with the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate. This perspective is not widely accepted today because there are many criticisms. These criticisms include that the perspective is too specific, encourages incorrect phrases and is not entirely possible. In order for this to be possible, parents would have to engage in intensive tutoring in order for language to be taught properly.
2. Nativist Theory
The nativist theory, proposed by Noam Chomsky, says that language is a unique human accomplishment. Chomsky says that all children have what is called an LAD, an innate language acquisition device that allows children to produce consistent sentences once vocabulary is learned. He also says that grammar is universal. This theory, while there is much evidence supporting it (language areas in the brain, sensitive period for language development, children's ability to invent new language systems) is not believed by all researchers.
3. Empiricist Theory
The empiricist theory argues that there is enough information in the linguistic input that children receive, and therefore there is no need to assume an innate language acquisition device (see above). This approach is characterized by the construction of computational models that learn aspects of language and/or that simulate the type of linguistic output produced by children. The most influential models within this approach are statistical learning theories such as connectionist models and chunking theories such as CHREST.
4. Interactionist Perspective
The interactionist perspective, consists of two components. This perspective is a combination of both the nativist and behaviorist theories. The first part, the information-processing theories, tests through the connectionist model, using statistics. From these theories, we see that the brain is excellent at detecting patterns.
The second part of the interactionist perspective, is the social-interactionist theories. These theories suggest that there is a native desire to understand others as well as being understood by others.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Dr. Santhosh Areekkuzhiyil
Asst. Professor, 
Dept of Educational psychology
Govt. College of teacher Education, Thalassery
Educational psychology is a field of psychology in which psychological knowledge and methods are used to study the processes of teaching and learning. Educational psychology combines psychology and education by applying the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes to educational goals. Thus it is an applied branch of psychology.
            Educational psychologists have seriously involved in researches which have so much educational implications. They study how people change while growing from infancy to old age. Psychologists thus discover what kinds of behaviour are typical of students at different ages. Educators use such information to develop effective teaching methods for various age groups.
            Educational psychologists analyse individual differences among students and determine the effect of these differences on their learning process. Attitudes, aptitudes, intelligence, social adjustment, and such other characteristics vary among students and these will influence students learning. By understanding these differences, teachers can develop better instructional strategies as well as instructional materials.
            Educational psychologists also study the principles of learning. Such researches provide teachers with information about how students learn and what stimulates them to learn. Educators use this information to design course curriculum. Educational psychologists also help to develop tests and other materials for evaluation of learning outcomes and ascertaining learning difficulties..
Learning, as a field of psychology, examines how lasting changes in behaviour are caused by experience, practice, or training. The psychologists who study learning are interested in the importance of rewards and punishment in the learning process. They also explore how different individuals and species learn, and the factors that influence memory.
 Motivation, as a field of psychology, is the study of what conscious and unconscious forces cause human beings and other animals to behave as they do. Motivational psychologists focus on bodily needs, sexual drives, aggression, and emotion.
 Perception, in psychology, is the study of how an organism becomes aware of objects, events, and relationships in the outside world through its senses. Psychologists in the field of perception analyse such topics as vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and movement.
 Personality refers to the characteristics that make individuals different from one another and account for the way they behave. Personality psychologists investigate how an individual's personality develops, the chief personality types, and the measurement of personality traits.
 Physiological psychology examines the relationship between behaviour and body structures or functions, particularly the workings of the nervous system. Physiological psychologists explore the functions of the brain, how hormones affect behaviour, and the physical processes involved in learning and emotions
Educational Psychology as a Branch of Applied Psychology
As discussed above educational psychology is nothing but one of the branches of applied psychology. It is an attempt to apply knowledge of pure psychology to the field of education. It consists of application of psychological principles and techniques to human behaviour in educational situations. In other words, Educational Psychology is a study of the experience and behaviour of the learner in relation to educational environment. In order to develop a clear understanding of the term educational psychology it is necessary to understand the meaning of psychology and education separately.
Psychology had its formal beginning when Wilhelm Wondt established his psychological laboratory in Leipzig, Germany in 1879. But in real sense, interest in psychology as a discipline dates back to the work of Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers.
Psychology – The Science of Soul
The Greek Philosophers conceived psychology as a science of soul, as early as 400 B.C. In fact, the term psychology literally means the science of soul. Etymologically, it is composed of two Greek words “Psyche” and “Logos” means soul and science respectively. Goeckel named it as psychologia. Soul is a being which dwells on the body and with the end of life it leaves the body. Soul is a metaphysical idea. It can neither be perceived or imagined nor its nature and function can be studied by scientific methods of observation, experiment etc. Therefore, definition of psychology as the science of soul has been discarded by the modern psychologists.
Psychology – The Science of Mind
Some regard psychology as the science of mind. Historically the French philosophers like Descartes (1596-1650) and the Britisher philosophers like Locke considered psychology as the science of mind. Descartes tried to understand body mind relationship in terms of their interaction, the study of nervous system, and interest of references as innate actions, etc.
The definition of psychology as the science of mind is not acceptable at present. Mind is an ambiguous concept like the soul. It is not at all possible to carry on scientific observation and experimentation on mind. This definition also does not include the overt behaviour of man and animal which are also important subject matter of psychology. Therefore, the definition of psychology as the science of mind has been discarded.
Psychology – The Science of Consciousness
Psychology has also been defined as the science of consciousness. Historically such a definition has been propounded by the Leipzing school of psychologists led by Withelm Wundt (1832-1920). Wundt defined psychology as the science of immediate experience with consciousness being the main subject matter. He postulated that conscious experience can be reduced in to elements and the primary aim psychology is the analysis of conscious experience in to its elements.
But the definition of psychology as the science of consciousness is not acceptable. That is because mental life does not consist only of consciousness. There are unconscious and subconscious mental process which influence our behaviour in various ways without our knowledge.
Psychology – The Science of Experience
Titchner (1867 – 1927), the leader of the structuralists defines psychology as the science of conscious experience which is dependent upon the experiencing person. To give an example the physicit and the psychologist may be investigating about sound. But whole the former investigates the phenomena as such; the latter is interested as to how it is perceived by the observer. The mind is nothing but the sum total of the conscious experiences as perceived by a person. The subject matter of psychology is the study of such conscious experience which constitutes mind. The method of study of conscious experience is through the introspection of a trained observer.
Psychology – Study of Behaviour
Watson (1878-1958), an American brought about a revolution in psychology called behaviourism. He argued that psychology is to be regarded as a science and as a science it is to limit itself to the study and analysis of publicly observable events such as the behaviour of the subject rather than subjective matters like his private mental states. He defined psychology as “the science of behaviour.”
What is Behaviour
Behaviour is classified in three categories according to its content :
a) Cognitive behaviour where it dominantly knows or thinking, e.g., solving questions.
b) Affective behaviour where the dominance is of feeling, e.g., the emotional experience of anger, fear, jealousy etc.
c) Conative behaviour where the dominance is of motor activity, e.g., cycling, playing hockey etc.
Definitions of Educational Psychology
            Educational psychology has been defined differently by different authors and psychologists. Some well known definitions are given below.
1. Crow and Crow: “Educational psychology describes and explains the learning experiences of an individual from birth through old age.”
2. Charles E. Skinner: “Educational Psychology is that branch of psychology which deals with teaching and learning.”
3. Trow: “Educational Psychology is the study of psychological aspects of educational situations.”
4. Stephen: “Educational Psychology is the systematic study of the educational growth and development of a child.”
5. F.A. Peel : “Educational Psychology is the science of education.”
6. Walter B. Kolesnik : “Educational Psychology is the study of those facts and principles of psychology which help to explain and improve the process of education.”
7. Anderson : “Educational Psychology is a subject to be studied, an area or field of knowledge, a set of application of laws and principles from a wide field of knowledge to a social process a set of tools and techniques, and a field of research. While General psychology is a pure science, Educational psychology is its application in the field of education with the aim of socialising man and modifying his behaviour.”
8. Judd : “Educational Psychology is the science which explains the changes that take place in the individuals as they pass through the various stages of development.”
Meaning of Educational Psychology
            Educational Psychology is one of the many branches of applied psychology, dealing mainly with problems, process and products of education. Educational Psychology attempts to apply the theories and practice of psychology in the field of education. It applies the psychological methods and techniques in teaching. Educational psychology helps in understanding the capacities, potentials and limitations of the child. It study the learners, teaching learning process, the factors facilitating learning, the learning environment etc.
Nature of Educational Psychology
1. Educational psychology is a positive science
2. Educational psychology is a behavioural science
3. Educational psychology is an applied science
4. Educational psychology is human experimental psychology
5. Educational psychology is a social science
6. Educational psychology is a couselling psychology
7. Educational psychology is an educational science
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences.
Aims and Objectives of Educational Psychology
            The following are the aims and objectives of educational psychology.
1.       To give insight to the teachers about the nature of child
2.      To help the teachers in finding out ways and means of social adjustment for the child
3.      To provide knowledge about the principles and methods of learning
4.      To study about emotions and their importance
5.      To give knowledge about the character formation of the child
6.      To help in planning instruction according to the age, ability and aptitude of the child.