Monday, April 03, 2006

More top tips for ENA1

Now for the rest of ENA1, which consists of Child Language Acquisition (and Language and Representation which will follow tomorrow).

CLA
You can check the past questions on the AQA website or have a look at the SFX Resource Site for a downloadable document with previous questions and essay planning sheets, before doing any revision, and that should help you realise that there are several key things you need to know whatever the question.
  1. You need to know the language framework and how each element is acquired (e.g. grammar, phonology, lexis, semantics, pragmatics).
  2. You need to know the competing theories and how they offer competing explanations for the CLA process.
  3. You need to have a grasp of relevant terminology (eg overextension, overgeneralisation, morphemes, consonants etc.)
  4. You need to have a good range of examples of child language data.
  5. You need to have a good grasp of the stages of CLA.
  6. You need to have a knowledge of case studies that provide evidence for/against certain theories /positions.
  7. You need to have your own view!

Looking at the previous essay questions should alert you to the fact that the questions follow one of three styles:
  • they pick out a framework element and ask you to explore how that element is acquired (eg "how does grammar develop?"/ "how do children acquire words (lexis) and meanings (semantics)?"
  • they pick out a theoretical position and ask you to explore its pros and cons (eg "to what extent do children learn by copying/applying rules/ interacting?")
  • or they offer you short extracts of data and ask you to analyse it and relate it to theory.

Whatever happens, you should never uncritically accept either Chomsky's Nativist or Skinner's Behaviourist theory as the holy grails, but offer an open-minded approach to the reasons behind CLA.

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