Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sample Coursework To Do List

Title Investigation - Power Techniques Used in Cartoon Opening Theme Lyrics

- Research power techniques in language
* Living Language
* AS Textbook chapter on Language and Power
- Research appeal of children's cartoons and typical topics covered in children's themes (e.g.
- Choose selection of cartoons (Selection of origins - Pokemon (Japanese), Darkwing Duck (Disney), Dangermouse (British), Jem (aimed at girls)
- Acquire lyrics (e.g and descriptions of series.
- Topics to look for
* Lexis
* Semantics
* Grammar
* Subtopics of Graphology and Phonology.
* Things to consider:
- Boy-focused cartoons are more likely have powerful language
- Selection is focused on action-based cartoons
- Subject of the cartoon is crucial

Writing Up a Language Research Project

Writing Up a Language Research Project

These subheadings are required by the exam board.

Introduction and Aims
• Discussion of the reasons for choosing the focus of the study
• A hypothesis or research question – what do you hope to achieve from this?
• Aim or aims – do you have any secondary aims – do they vary?
• Are you proving/disproving another theorist/study?

• Describe the methodology you chose for your data collection.
• Explain the reasons for choosing that form of data collection.
• Problems and any ethical considerations encountered/taken into account during the collection process.

• What became evident from your discoveries?
• Analysis and interpretation of data using appropriate linguistic concepts
• Critical consideration of the relevant concepts / issues surrounding the topic area.
• Analysis of the effects of key contextual influences upon the data (what affected your outcomes)

Conclusion / Evaluation
• • An evaluation of the success of the investigation including issues relating to methodology, interpretation of the conclusions drawn from the data and how the study could be extended

• A list of all sources used (paper and web-based).

Appendices - including all data collected and annotations made.

Monday, 16 November 2009

A2 Language Coursework

• Investigation of 1750-2500 words - includes students own words only.
• An accompanying media text of 750 – 1000 words

Exam Board Says:
• Independent work
• Supported by teachers
• Data driven investigations (data quantity and quality is crucial)
• There is no hierarchy of data types
• Evidence of student learning – background reading
• Ethical practices are essential
• Referencing – ALL texts must be referenced, otherwise the folder is incomplete and 50% has to be removed.

Exam Board Advises
• A brief introduction & methodology is sufficient – therefore emphasis remains on analysis
• Background reading must be evident in both investigation and media text

Rothery's Categories

Rothery's Categories

Writer makes observations and follows with an evaluative comment, or mixes with an observation.

Usually chronological sequence of events, written subjectively. Set pattern of orientation-event-reorientation.

A factual and objective description of events or things – usually not chronological

Story genre – set pattern of orientation-complication-resolution-coda. The coda which identifies the point of the story is not always included. Few children complete this early on

Analysing Texts

Look at the texts. Think about how the child has used the following feature of language:

Graphology – how is the writing laid out on the page?
Lexis and semantics – how wide is the child’s vocabulary? Are any specific semantic fields used?
Grammar – which sentence types are used?
Orthography (Spelling) – are there any patterns in the ways the words are spelled?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Categorising Texts - How to Group

Grouping Texts

Categorising Texts employs a strategy called GROUPING.

You need to group texts according to a linguistic feature they both share. You have more than a hundred features to choose from.

1. Choose the linguistic feature that 2-4 texts share. The areas you can choose form are as follows:
the vocabulary system; meaning at word and phrase level (includes semantics)
• Grammar
the structural relationships within and between sentences and utterances
• Phonetics/ Phonology
the sounds of English, how they are produced and how they are described; including aspects of prosody
• Pragmatics
the ways in which social conventions and implied meanings are encoded in spoken and written language
• Discourse
(i) longer stretches of text, looking particularly at aspects of cohesion
(ii) the way texts create identities for particular individuals, groups or institutions e.g. the discourse of law, politics, the media
• Graphology
language as a semiotic system creating meaning through textual design, signs and images.
• Register
situational variation and register: how language varies in relation to audiences, purposes and contexts
• Mode
how language may vary as a consequence of the channel of communication (speech, writing and mixed modes)
• Idiolect
the language style acquired by individuals as a result of their personal characteristics, systems of belief and social experience
• Dialect
the variations in language produced as a result of local community and regional diversity
• Sociolect
language variations produced by the effects of education, socio-economic class, systems of belief, occupation and membership of social groups.

2. You then find examples of this particular linguistic feature in action and give them as EXAMPLES.
3. You are now going to show your understanding of the reasons behind the groupings by explaining why they have used the feature and subtle differences between their usages (e.g. three texts may use concrete nouns in the form of names but one text uses first name to form a relationship, one uses surname to show formality due to it being a solicitors’ letter and the other uses a full educational title as it is a speech that confers respect on the special guest).

Monday, 9 November 2009

Accent and Dialect

  • Accent – A distinct way of pronouncing a language

  • Dialect – a variety of a language that is distinguished from others by changes in phonology, grammar, and vocabulary
  • Creole – A combination of two or more languages into one
  • Pidgin – A simplified form of language
  • Standard English (S.E.) - is a term generally applied to a form of the English language that is thought to be normative for educated native speakers.
  • Jargon – is a terminology which relates to one particular group, activity or profession
  • Slang – is the the use of highly informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language.

Speech and Writing

Speech and Writing Features

  • Decoded by the ear
  • Transient; ephemeral; impermanent; what is said cannot be captured (unless taped)
  • May be spontaneous; unplanned
  • Allows interaction and immediate feedback; overlaps and interruptions
  • Allows non-verbal signals; gestures and body language
  • Unfinished sentences; false starts; hesitations; repetitions
  • Interrupted constructions; disjuncture
  • May use non-standard grammar
  • Contractions (use of elision) eg. can’t; I’ll
  • Pauses and fillers eg. er; I mean; sort of
  • Colloquial language
  • Prosodic features: intonation; stress; pitch; volume
  • Mood signals: laughter; silence
  • Highly context-bound
  • Assumes shared knowledge; deictic expressions eg. over there; that one
  • Phatic utterances eg. ‘How’s things?’
  • Looser grammatical construction
  • Errors remain: what is said cannot be ‘unsaid’
  • Accent and dialect may be apparent
  • Cohesion/ coherence
  • May appear messy and unstructured

Features of Writing

  • Decoded by the eye
  • Usually planned and revised: reader sees the polished version
  • No immediate feedback
  • Only the language can signal tone: no prosodic or paralinguistic features
  • Permanent and static
  • Allows close analysis and repeated reading
  • Sentences more complex, more tightly constructed; more subordinate clauses
  • Avoids deictic expressions which can be ambiguous (e.g. This book)
  • Graphological features
  • Distance between writer and reader

Categorising Texts

Looking at Categorising Texts, consider the following topics:


Lexis and Semantics

  • What word classes are used?
  • Any collocations
  • Use of pronouns?
  • Use of verbs?
  • Use of nouns?
  • Adjectives and adverbs?
  • Lexical/Semantic Fields
  • Lexical connectors
  • Synonyms/Antonyms
  • Denotation/Connotation
  • Figurative Language (similes, metaphors)
  • Under/Over specify
Discourse Structure
  • How does it start?
  • Is it laid out in a logical order?
  • Is it cohesive or disjointed? What is used to make it flow?
  • Subheadings, headings?
  • Chronological structure?
  • Narrative structure
  • Analysis (breaking down ideas into constituent parts)
  • Problem solution (identifies a problem to be solved)

Spoken Discourse Structure

  • Is the conversation laid out in adjacency pairs? (Greetings, questions, answers, command and response)
  • Does the conversation follow a logical pattern?
  • Is there turn taking?

How is it organised?

o Dominant speaker?

o Equal turns?

o Who signals the end/start of a turn?

o Topic management (who has the control?)

  • What speaker moves are used: framing, initiating, focusing, challenging (interruption of a topic)
  • Tag Questions
  • Fillers
  • Discourse markers (anyway, so,)
  • False Starts
  • Ellipsis and Ellision

Grammar and Syntax
  • Does the grammar conform to the formality of the situation? (The more formal the more standard the grammar patterns)
  • What sentence structures are used?
  • What clause structures are used?

  • What kinds of utterances are used? (declarative, imperative, emotive)

  • Use of adverbial intensifiers to enhance meaning? (very, a bit)
  • Incomplete utterances.
  • False starts and pauses
  • Contractions
  • Qualifiers

Graphology - The visual elements of a text.

  • Font choices
  • Layout
  • Inclusion of pictures


  • Assonance
  • Alliteration
  • Accents and Dialect


  • Context, implication and inference
  • Grice’s Maxims
  • Diexis
  • What meanings do we take from words
  • Background knowledge and modern language.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Parents and CDS

Mummy and Daddy
  • What do parents provide a child with?
  • How does this stimulate Language Acquisition?
  • Which theorists do we know include the role of the parents?
What are these really?

CDS – Child Directed Speech
  • Reduplication
  • Deletion and Substitution
  • Addition
How is baby talk (CDS) said?
  • Simple features
  • Exaggerated prosodic features

What features are there of CDS?
  • Repetition or repeated sentence frames
  • Higher pitch
  • The child’s name rather than pronouns
  • Present tense
  • One word utterances or ellipsis
  • Few verbs or modifiers
  • Concrete nouns
  • Expansions (the expanding of a child’s utterances)
  • Recasts – the extending of and rephrasing of an utterance.
  • Yes/no questions
  • Exaggerated pauses with turn-taking cues.

Bruner and his LASS
  • Ritualised activities help parents make rules and meanings predictable and explicit.
  • What does peek-a-boo teach children?
  • What about hickory-dickory-clock
  • One, two, three, four, five?

Children's Reading

What do young readers need to know?
• Relationship between written symbols and sounds.
• The cohesion of written texts with different interconnections
• Memory for the words – shapes and sounds
• Are organised in certain ways.
• Differ in organisation according to genre.
• Represent the culture of origin (narratives, left to right etc)

How are Children taught to read?
• “Look and Say”/whole word approach
• Phonics
• What are the benefits/drawbacks of each?

Children's Books

Feature of Children's Books

  • Emphasis on multi-modal and interactivity
  • Significance of characters
  • Use of direct speech
  • Phonological Devices
  • Pictures and Layout
  • Illustrations relating to actions
  • Consistent tense
  • Poetic devices
  • Repetition
  • Use of synonyms and hypernyms.

Children's Writing Stages

– What are the purposes and functions of writing?
– How do our writing skills develop?
– How do we personalise these?
– How do we adapt our writing for different registers?

What do children need to know to be able to write?
• Controlling a writing implement
• Combining words and sentences together
• Controlling register and discourse structure
• Manipulating language
• Recognising audience

To be able to write, you must be able to:

• Vocabulary and associated meanings of words and phrases.
• Sentences to create meaning.
• Graphemes that relate to phonemes and other devices to create prosodic effects (punctuation choices).
• Social conventions within texts.
• Cohesive structures
• Layout of texts and use of graphology
• Variations in language to suit Purpose, Audience and Register.

Writing Stages
• How do children progress in writing?

Writing stages
• Drawing
• Letter-like forms (emergent writing)
• Copied letters
• Name and strings of letters
• Words
• Sentences
• Text

Kroll’s Four Phases

Stage 1 - Preparatory
• Up to 6 years old
• When the child learns the physical skills required to write and the basics principles of the spelling system

Stage 2 - Consolidation
• Ages 6-8
• When children write as they speak
• Sentences are grammatically incomplete
• They use simple CONJUNCTIONS e.g. and, then, so

Stage 3 - Differentiation
• Age 8 – mid teens
• They become more aware of differences between speech and writing
• More confident use of grammatical structures
• More complex sentences including SUBORDINATE CLAUSES and more sophisticated connectives
• Begin to adapt writing to audience and purpose

Stage 4 - Integration
• Age – mid teens and upwards
• Personal style is more developed
• Writing adapted confidently to different situations

Monday, 28 September 2009

Theorists List



Noam Chomsky stated that children are born with an innate knowledge of language when they are born and learning of their native language is at high speed when hearing it from others (Plato believed it too).
This links to children over regularising and putting grammar into utterances when they are not needed. Chomsky is one of the most famous theorists on child language acquisition and his theories were based on his own intuitions about English and not actually studied on real children.
Chomsky created the LAD - Language Acquisition Device
1. Baby already knows about linguistic rules, as they are born with an innate knowledge of language.
2. Baby hears examples of his/ her native language
3. The linguistic rules help Baby make estimations and presumptions about the language it is hearing.
4. From these estimations and presumption Baby works out grammatical sets of rules. As more language is heard the grammar becomes more and more like adults.


B.F. Skinner bases his theory of children acquiring language through behaviourism. Skinner states that all behaviour is conditioned through:
Positive Reinforcement – Rewards, repetitions, following through of requests and demands
Negative Reinforcement – Punishment, ignoring, denial of wants
This happens again and again until the behaviour is learned and becomes natural and automatic. So, babies imitate their parents/carers and are either reprimanded or praised according to their accuracy. Skinner believes that biology plays almost no part in the way children learn language.


Piaget's theory on children learning language is mainly focused around “cognitive development,” meaning language is controlled by the development of thinking. If a baby can use sentences involving phrases such as, "more than", "less than" it is obvious that the concepts of "more than" must have been grasped, before the child uses the phrase in an utterance.
Put simply, until the child thinks of a concept, they cannot vocalise it and the higher their thinking the more they vocalise.


Bruner created and argued for the Language Acquisition Support System (LASS). Bruner states through LASS that parents often use books and images to develop their child’s naming abilities and their ability to get involved in conversation.
1- Gaining attention- drawing the babies attention to a picture
2- Query- asking the baby to identify the picture
3- Label- telling the baby what the object is
4- Feedback- responding to the babies utterances
This is also called SCAFFOLDING, where the child is supported in their learning of language by carers and once they have learnt it, the support is taken away.

Other Theorists

• John Macnamara - said that rather than having an in-built language device, children have an innate capacity to read meaning into social situations. It is this capacity that makes them capable of understanding and learning language, not the LAD.
• Bard and Sachs Studied a boy called 'Jim', who was son of two deaf parents. Although he was exposed to TV and radio, his speech development was severely retarded until he attended sessions with a speech therapist, implying that human interaction is necessary to develop speech.
• Berko and Brown found that a child who referred to a plastic inflatable fish as a ‘fis’ substituting the ‘s’ sound for the ‘sh’ sound, couldn’t link an adult saying ‘fis’ as the same object (only responded to adult saying ‘fish’).
• Cruttenden had adults and children to predict football results from the intonation used by the announcers. Children found it more difficult.
• Jean Aitchison came up with stages of lexical development
1- Labelling – Linking words to objects to which they refer, understanding labels
2- Packaging – Exploring labels and where they can apply, over/underextension occurs in order to gain meanings.
3- Network-building – Making connections between words, understanding similarities and opposites in meaning. They start with a HYPERNYM (a general word that can have more specific words under it) and explore HYPONYMS (words that fall under a hypernym’s category)
• Katherine Nelson - found that 60% of children's early word phrases contained nouns, then verbs, pre-modifiers and phatic. She also said that the nouns were more commonly things that surrounded the children i.e ball, mum, cat. Nelson also said that in Re-casts (e.g. Ben: "me ball" Mum: "pass me the ball") children whose sentences were re-cast performed better at imitating sentences.
• Bellugi explored negatives and negation and identified three stages:
(1) Uses ‘no’ or ‘not’ at the beginning of end of the sentence – “No shoes!”
(2) Puts ‘no’ or ‘not’ inside the sentence –“I no wear shoes!”
(3) Attaches negatives to auxiliary verbs and to the copula verb “be” - “I won’t wear shoes!”
• Bellugi also explored children’s pronoun use and found three stages
(1) Uses their own name – “Katherine play.”
(2) Recognises I/me pronouns – “I play”, “Me up”
(3) Uses pronouns according to whether they are the subject or object position – “I play with the toy.”/ “Give it to me.”
• Brown found that morphemes were acquired in an order: -ing, in/on, -s, past tense irregular, possessive ‘s, is/was, the/a, past tense regular, 3rd person regular, 3rd person irregular, uncontractible auxiliary verb (were), contractibles (she’s), contractible auxiliary (she’s running).
• Berko found that children gradually developed pluralisations through the “wug” test
• Brown and Levinson suggested that politeness in children centred around two aspects of ‘face’
o Positive – where the individual desires social approval and being included.
o Negative – where the individual asserts their need to be independent and make their own decisions
• Catherine Garvey found that in play, children adopt roles and identities, acting out storylines and inventing objects and settings.
• Halliday is just the functions of child language. The most commonly used is instrumental and regulatory, which are learnt, along with interactional and personal, at a young age. Representational is used by 6-8+ year olds.
o Representational - "I've got something to show you" - language showing how they feel, declarative
o Regulatory - "Do as I tell you" - requesting/asking for things
o Instrumental - "I want"- expressing needs/wants
o Interactional - "Me and you" - speaking to other, establishing personal contact
o Imaginative - "Let's pretend" - imaginative language, used with play, to create imaginary world. Crystal talks of 'phonological' function as playing with sound.
o Personal - "Here I come"- child expresses their feelings/expressing personal preferences
o Heuristic - "Tell me why"- uses language to explore environment/ seeking information
• John Dore also describes language functions that focuses more on individual utterances
o Labelling – Naming a person, object or thing.
o Repeating – Repeating an adult word or utterance
o Answering – Responding to an utterance of another speaker
o Requesting Action – Asking for something to be done for them
o Calling – Getting someone’s attention
o Greeting – Greeting someone
o Protesting – Objecting to requests from others
o Practising – Using language when no adult is present.

Children Learning Words

* For children, a new word usually refers to a whole object, not part of it or a quality the object possesses.
* This corroborates Katherine Nelsons theory that most of a child's first words are nouns.
* There is some logic to this as most concrete nouns fit into the four categories that Spelke noted: cohesion, continuity, solidity, contact. Basically, children like objects that are clearly defined in shape, that don’t disappear, which are solid, and which don’t have a life of their own (unless they’re animate – animals or people).
* Children also apply a couple of other strategies: the type assumption and the basic level assumption.
* The type assumption prevents children from underextending most new words. In other words, if they are told that the new thing they have seen is a dog, they don’t assume that only that particular dog is a dog and every other dog isn’t.
* The basic level assumption prevents the child from overextending meanings too far. So, once a child has recognised what the noun ‘dog’ refers to, they seem to understand that it also refers to things with similar properties (appearance, behaviour, size).
* So a dog shouldn’t be a horse, a cat or a meerkat… But it doesn’t always work that way, and the mistakes children make seem to shed some light on the processes they’re using to distinguish these differences.
* This is where network-building comes in, when a child learns about the hierarchical nature of words (E.g Dog - Collie/Labrador)

Halliday’s Functions of Language in the Child Language Acquisition Debate

(by Nick Christodoulou)

Several attempts have been made to catalogue the different functions of language, and to chart child language development in terms of the increasing range of these functions to be found in the growing child’s repertoire. Michael Halliday’s taxonomy is documented below:- Instrumental: Language used to fulfil a need on the part of the speaker. Directly concerned with obtaining food, drink and comfort.
- Regulatory: Language used to influence the behaviour of others. Concerned with persuading / commanding / requesting other people to do things you want.
- Interactional: Language used to develop social relationships and ease the process of interaction. Concerned with the phatic dimension of talk.
- Personal: Language used to express the personal preferences and identity of the speaker. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Here I am!’ function – announcing oneself to the world.
- Representational: Language used to exchange information. Concerned with relaying or requesting information.
- Heuristic: Language used to learn and explore the environment. Child uses language to learn; this may be questions and answers, or the kind of running commentary that frequently accompanies children’s play.
- Imaginative: Language used to explore the imagination. May also accompany play as children create imaginary worlds, or may arise from storytelling.

Should you want further reading on language acquisition, these websites are very helpful and explain all the relevant hypotheses and theories:

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Phonological Mistakes

Phonological Mistakes


Omitting the final consonant


Substituting one sound for another


Adding an extra vowel sound to the ends of words, creating a CVCV pattern


Changing one consonant or vowel for another


Repeating a whole syllable

Consonant Cluster Reductions

Reducing groups of consonants into one

Deletion of unstressed syllables

Omitting the opening syllable in polysyllabic words

Questions and Negatives

Bellugi and McNeil (1960s-1970s)

They theorised that there are distinct stages to how children develop and apply rules to negatives and questions.

The basic syntax of a question: Where (question word) is (auxiliary verb) Daddy (object) going (main verb)

Stages of Question Formation
1. Use of intonation to signal a a question is being asked (remember Cruttenden with his children recognising intonation) .
2. The use of question words. (What, where, why)
3. Manipulating syntax to create more detailed questions?

Stages of Negative Formation
1. The use of the negative alone (such as the infamous NO! or NOT! Stage)
2. Combining a negative with others in the 2-word and telegraphic stages, usually at the beginning. (Not me, no want, no beddy)
3. Using the negative in the middle of the utterance (I not want that, Me no like that)
4. Increasing accuracy of negative words and the use of contractions with auxiliary (She isn't going, I don't want to)
5. Increased complexity and range of negative words. (I haven't got any. There isn't anything. I have not got my juice.)
6. Saying no without using negatives (inflection and adjusting intonation).

Parents and CDS

Mummy and Daddy
* What do parents/carers provide a child with?
- Food
- Emotional support
- Models
- Guidance
* How does this stimulate Language Acquisition?
- Correct syntax
- Heed demands
- Provide network-building opportunities
* Which theorists do we know include the role of the parents?
- Skinner
- Chomsky (to realise the correct rules)
- Bruner (LASS)
- Nelson (Recasts)

Lexemes in CDS
* Reduplication - Bye-Bye
* Deletion and Substitution - Jim-Jams
* Addition - Doggie

How is baby talk (CDS) pronounced?
* Simple features
* Exaggerated prosodic features
* Exaggerated pauses with turn-taking cues.
* Higher pitch

What features are there of CDS

* Repetition or repeated sentence frames
* The child’s name rather than pronouns
* Present tense
* One word utterances or ellipsis
* Slower speech
* Few verbs or modifiers
* Concrete nouns
* Emphasised phonemes
* Expansions (the expanding of a child’s utterances)
* Recasts – the extending of and rephrasing of an utterance.
* Yes/no questions

- Bruner and his LASS
- Bruner said that ritualised activities help parents make rules and meanings predictable and explicit.
- What does peek-a-boo teach children? (Piagets Object Permanence)
- What about hickory-dickory-clock?
- One, two, three, four, five?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Data from the Telegraphic Stage

Child Language Grammatical Development – Telegraphic Stage

Data Extract 1
Context: girl watching train go by a few minutes after her mother has left for work
Age: 2 years 4 months
Ruby: Mummy go work on train.

Data Extract 2
Context: imaginative play with teddy bears and figures.
Age: 2 years 8 months
Adult: What are you doing?
Stan: I giving blanket to monkey.

Data Extract 3
Context: looking over balcony and finding fisherman who’s been there for the last 3 mornings isn’t there
Age: 1 year 10 months
Mattie: Where man gone?

Data Extract 4
Context: watching TV with father and asking questions about girl on Cbeebies.
Age: 2 years 6 months
Mattie: What her doing?

Ciaran Transcript

These are a selection of utterances from Ciaran over the course of nine months from the ages of 11 Months to 1 Year 8 Months. Discuss how Ciaran’s language has developed over the time referring to his lexical, semantic, pragmatic and phonological development.

C – Ciaran
Ch – Charlie, Ciaran’s Mother
D – Charlie’s Partner

CH: You want a biscuit? (offers a biscuit)
C: Ah-Ah! (hands out, reaching for the biscuit, is given it)
CH: What do you say?
C: Taa

CH: You dancing?
C: Mmmm (moving back and forth to the music)
CH: Time to put your socks on then?
C: Sock
CH: Your socks
C: Sock
CH: Now say bye-bye (waves to friends)
C: Bye-bye (waves)

D: You gonna score a goal, Ciaran?
C: Ahh (toddles after Dave)
D: You gonna kick the ball?
C: Kii-Kii-Kii (makes kicking motions)
D: Kick the ball
C: Day! (points to the point, then kicks it)
D: Yay! Goal, Ciaran. Goal! (puts hands in the air)
C: Goal! (puts hands in the air)

CH: What are you doing?
C: Doggie
CH: What’s the doggie doing?
C: Doggie up (lifts toy dog in the air)
CH: You want me to pick up the doggie?
D: I’m going to steal Doggie (takes the toy dog away from Ciaran)
C: No!


Welcome to the NFGS A-level English Language. Here you find your resources and homeworks from the various weeks.