Free Essay. Language Development and the Goals of Language Instruction

Published: 2023-02-14
Free Essay. Language Development and the Goals of Language Instruction
Type of paper:  Course work
Categories:  Learning Child development Language development
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1197 words
10 min read

The chapter explores the developmental milestones in child language acquisition. Schimer revisits past literature from babbling to single-word utterances and later to a short sentence as the child develops. Schimer discusses the current nature of language acquisition in all children, especially deaf children. Similarly, the author discusses the role of language evaluation and methods of using formal and informal instruments. Lastly, the use of a classroom, itinerant, or a specialist teacher in determining a child's language development at each stage.

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Nature and Study of Language Acquisition

The study of child language acquisition started at the end of the nineteenth century, between the 1870s and 1920s. The study was carried out in parents' perspective by psychologists who recorded data in diaries and later used it to observe their children. Researchers found that child language acquisition by the time was psychologists' interest in child development.

Language behaviors became popular with continued diary studies between the 1920s and 1950s as a result of the influence of the behavioral theory of learning. Between the 1950s and 1960s, researchers started using longitudinal language sampling as opposed to relatively large representative samples. Smaller samples were systematically collected and studied over a long period of time. The studies are influenced by the transformational theory of grammar, hence focusing on the child's acquisition of syntax. There was a shift from syntax to study semantics by 1970s and then language use by 1980s with an emphasis on pragmatics and conversations. During the same period, the research interest was on language development and the child's linguistic and non-linguistic environment. Similarly, the American Sign Language was conducted where the researchers found that ASL represented a linguistically rich language.

Cognitive Dimension of Language Acquisition

Schirmer finds that the interaction between cognition and language acquisition as interdependent. The author illustrates that child's innate cognitive abilities enable the child to have a cognitive capacity to make sense of linguistic information. The child's developing conceptual knowledge supports language acquisition and emerges as the child's language develops. Additionally, the child's cognitive strategies strengthen language acquisition, such as focusing, analyzing, organizing, classifying, and problem-solving. Chimer references the work of Rice and Kemper who describe the relationship between cognitive and language acquisition like a growing plant.

Development Sequence in Language Acquisition

In her literature, Schirmer finds that the development sequence in language acquisition for both normal hearing and deaf children is similar. Children with hearing impairment have the same cognitive, and therefore their development sequence in language acquisition is more or less the same.

Gesture and Early Language Development

Research supports that:

  • Both hearing and deaf children use symbolic gestures
  • Both symbolic features and spoken words appear almost at the same time in hearing children
  • Mostly, symbolic elements are used for requesting before labelling
  • Both gestures and words are used in activities that are repeated
  • Symbolic gestures are essential in language acquisition
  • Syntactic and Semantic Development

Children go through syntactic and semantic stages that are predictable during language acquisition. The predictable steps, especially in deaf children, include;

  • Syntactic development which provides for language morphology
  • The framework of language development, that is, the order of language development
  • The semantic event which involves learning of language content
  • Development of Language Use
  • Schirmer recognizes three related areas of language use, that is, functions/communication intents, and context/presuppositions.

Role of Parents in Language Development

Language development in children depends significantly on the number of conversations they have with the adults, a process called motherese/child-directed speech/baby talk. Research, as reviewed by the author, indicate that mothers, fathers, siblings, and all caretakers tune to the language of children to modify their style to fit that of the children.

Later Language Development

It involves later syntactic, such as personal pronouns, verbs and adjectives, and semantic like vocabulary development, word association, among others. Similarly, then the development of language use, context, functions, and conversations are also encountered.

Metalinguistic Awareness

According to the author, metalinguistic awareness is the ability of a child to reflect upon language and develops gradually when they later start correcting their speech or signs. As they grow, children can make judgments about sentences grammatically as well as have a rudimentary ability to reflect on the component of effective communication. Development of metalinguistic awareness, as found by Schirmer, has accelerated due to the introduction of reading and writing, which enhances consciousness to words and sounds.

Goals of Language Instruction

The goals involve language structures, meanings, and use expected from an individual deaf child by the end of each year. The goals enable assess language development in children. Language instruction for deaf children provides a learning environment with opportunities for meaningful interactions with their peers.

Approaches to Language Assessment

Nature and Role of Assessment

This involves gathering information on current language abilities of a deaf child and interpreting this information and later making decisions basing on it.

Process of language assessment

Involves eight steps; obtaining information, evaluation of child's intellectual functioning, screening evaluation, evaluation of specific language abilities, Summary of child's abilities, evaluation of the associated factors, diagnostic teaching, and summarizing and interpretation of the information.

Formal Approach: Standardize Assessment Instruments

Standardize Test involves the comparison of the child's performance with that of their peers. Objective information is obtained using a standardized test as well as reliability, validity, representativeness, and standard error of measurement is acquired.

Informal Approach to Assessment

This is collecting information through observation, analysis of student's performance, assessment of the curriculum, tests by teachers, and other criterion-referenced tests. This method provides a child's information regarding a child's understanding and language use. However, the accuracy and competence of the child's information rely on the teacher or the clinician.

Language Sampling

It is a segment of a child's language ability used to represent their linguistic ability.

Obtaining a Language Sample

To get a language sample from a deaf child, one requires one to be interested, responsive, and be minimally directive. Several activities can trigger deaf children to give at least fifty necessary utterances. Such activities include the use of toys, provoking a child to ask questions, engaging the child in conversation, among others.

Analyzing the Child's Developmental Language Stage

According to Schirmer, after acquiring a language sample, the data is analyzed using informal approaches, then the results are used to modify the findings from the formal testing.

Analyzing Language sample

The first step is to analyze the syntactic and morphologic forms of a child written for language transcribing. The author describes how to analyze the child's language step by step using informal and formal assessment approaches.

Using Results from Informal and Formal Assessment Approaches

The two types of results, standardized tests, and language sampling approach should be combined for a complete representation of the deaf child's current language abilities.

Identifying Appropriate Language Goals.

Language goals are developed by comparing a child's current abilities with what already exists or expected to appear in a child's language.

Case Study

Schirmer highlights the process of language analysis using Chaulanda's case study.

Final Comments

The author unveils the connectedness of a child's language development process, especially a deaf child, to their cognitive and their external environment.


Schirmer, B. R. (1994). Language and literacy development in children who are deaf. New York: Merrill.

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