Discussion of the Importance of the Social and Cultural Context Where Child Language Acquisition is Concerned

2364 Words10 Pages
Discussion of the Importance of the Social and Cultural Context Where Child Language Acquisition is Concerned Beginning with Elene Lieven’s review of the importance of the environment for language learning, discuss the importance of the social and cultural context where child language acquisition is concerned. Environment According to Elena Lieven, the roles played by brothers and sisters, and other children and the extent to which adults explicitly teach appropriate language to their children are important in language learning. By ‘environment’, she means the characteristics of the interpersonal surroundings within which young, language-learning children spend their time whether dyadic ( mainly alone with the mother)or polyadic ( with other adults,with siblings,with a group of children). ( Mercer & Swann, p 36) Theories of environmental influences on language learning have tended to be built upon the study of the mother-infant dyad where in actual fact most children in the world grow up in polyadic situations where they spend a lot of time in one of the following situations: with the mother and other sibling/children; with older children or others acting as caregivers; sitting around with a group of adults and children. This is not only true of children in non-industrailized cultures; in many economically advanced societies childcare arrangements may be less dependent on the mother staying at home with the children. (Mercer & Swann, p 36) There are more polyadic patterns of childcare seen in rural, economically traditional societies. The children in Schieffelin’s (1985) study of Kaluli of Papua New Guinea spend... ... middle of paper ... ... communities via different dialects, in others via different languages, whereas in others codeswitching allows hybrid identities to be expressed and mixed messages to be conveyed. Up to adolescence children are learning to use these different varieties and mixtures of language to express their identities and achieve their goals, both as members of social groups and as individuals. ( Mercer & Swann, p 70) In our everyday lives, we play a variety of social roles, and it is often through spoken language ( or silence) that we signal shifts in our social identity or relationships with others. Sometimes we unconsciously converge towards or diverge from the speech patterns of others either within or beyond our community; at other times we may make a conscious choice to emulate or mimic another person or social group.

More about Discussion of the Importance of the Social and Cultural Context Where Child Language Acquisition is Concerned

Open Document