Developmental Social Cognition: Joint Attention . Blog 1 . Blog 2 . Blog 3. Summary.
So far, in my child development series, I have focused on proto* cognition, joint attention, and self awareness. All three topics have centered around the child development of social cognition. It is important to learn joint attention to establish early bonds of communication between parent and child. It is important to learn about proto* cognition, as proto* cognition is the very basics of cognition, and by studying proto* cognition, we can get a better grasp on adult social cognition on attitudes, biases, etc. Self awareness is extremely important, as a child’s journey to become autonomous is not complete without this step. This week (the final week) the final topic of conversation will be centered around first language acquisition. First language acquisition is a scientific marvel. By 8 or 9 months, the parents should hear the child mimic their voices; babbling to form vowels and consonants. By 12 months, the child can understand most words such as “Hello”, “No”, “Stop”, “Good Job”, etc. but it is suggested that the child only picks up on the tone of voice, and not the actual words being said. By 18 months, an infant knows, on average, a dozen to two dozen words, and should be coining two to three word sentences. By the time the infant is two years old, their vocabulary will have doubled. Between 18 months and two years, the infant can form words, and mimic the words their parents say just as they were able to mimic the vowel and consonant sounds. By three and four, the child has learned an exponential amount of language, and by hanging around siblings, friends, preschoolers, and other adults, will vastly expand their vocabularies. This is the time when children repeat funny curse words. (DiProperzio, 2013) How does all this development happen though? Where does first language acquisition start, What happens in the case of speech delays or deafness, and what does this have to do with social cognition?
Prosody is the ability to recognize the pattern of rhythm in words. It is written by Homae, et al., that prosodic processing is the first step to first language aqucisition. It begins as a way for the infant to pick up on phonetics and sentence style before they start talking. at this stage, the infant has already completed joint attention tasks, and is self aware to the point of being able to recognize themselves in photographs. What prosodic processing looks like in active toddlers is mimicking parents’ sentences by cooing and babbling in similar pitches and lengths of time for how ever long the parent was talking. (see video) In the video clip I have linked to this blog, a baby is “talking” on the phone to her father. The coos and baby talk the baby makes is in time and pitch with the speech of the father on the other side of the phone call. While this is not language, this developmental stage represents a child holding an interest into having a conversation.
First Language Acquisition:
First language acquisition can be explained in many ways. Through my research these past few weeks, I have found behavioural explanations, neurological explanations, and even behavioural evolutionary explanations for first language acquisition. As first language acquisition could be a course on its own, I’ve broken it down into four easy to follow steps. These steps will mirror the approach I took to explaining self awareness, but I find that when it comes to developmental social cognition, it is best to match progress via a time line. The four stages of first language acquisition are as follows:
- Babbling (six months to nine months) : This first step is what we refer to above when we speak about prosodic processing. At the babbling stage, the baby is simply trying to get a hold of their own vocal chords. The infant is testing all the vocal equipment out for when they are able to make real word sounds. Another important step part of babbling is babbling in response to adult human speech. Again, please see this video for clarification. At this stage in development, the infant is able to nod yes or no, has established joint attention with the parent, displays level two self awareness, and is able to point to what they want.
- One word or Holophrastic stage: (seven months to 12 months) At this stage, the child is able to utter single words, and is able to connect these single words to symbols of importance. A child at this stage might be able to say “mama”, “dada”, “baby”, “that” etc. At this stage, the infant’s self awareness is limited. It is this stage that they may recognize themselves in photographs, but also might mistake another bald, young baby as themselves. This can also happen with mothers and fathers. If an infant’s father is bald, and she sees a bald man walking down the street, she may point and yell “dada”.
- Two-word stage: One year to 18 months. At this stage, the infant is able to join two or more words to communicate further. This happens around the time when batoddles get frustrated that no one can unnderstand them. In an effort to get better, they will be doing a lot of listening and mimicking to get the structure of the language down. At this stage, the child might now about fifty words altogether. At this point in their life, fifty words is all they need. At this stage in self-awareness development, they are able to fully define who they are, and are beginning to understand how others percieve them. They understand that actions have consequences and that when tehy call out for an object with the proper name, their reward is recieving the object they wanted.
- Telegraphic stage: 18 months to three or four years of age. At this stage, the child has begun talking in full sentences. I don’t personally remember my first sentence, but my mother has told me that the first sentence she caught me uttering was “I need to pee.” While this is embarrassing, this would definitely be a phrase of great importance to a young toddler, as soiling the diaper or pull-up becomes something of a discomfort. At this stage of development, they are able to identify colours, shapes, family members, as well as basic needs (hunger, thirst, sleep, bathroom, etc.) When the child reaches the age of two, they should be learning ten to fifteen new words per week. By the time the child starts Kindergarten (four or five), the child should be able to fully communicate with other peers and their teacher.
If this blog could be longer, I would carry on about the way deaf children and children with learning delays learn language, as it is vastly different from the mainstream, and it is quite the read. I have attached a subsequent article should there be any interest in this subject.
D, L. (2016, March 07). Language Development Milestones: Ages 1 to 4. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/language/language-development-milestones-ages-1-to-4/
Homae, F., et al., (2007) Prosodic processing in the developing brain. Neuroscience Research, 59(1), 29-39.
Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Early language acquisition: Cracking the speech code. Nature Reviews.Neuroscience, 5(11), 831-43.
Pimperton, H., & Kennedy, C. R. (2012). The impact of early identification of permanent childhood hearing impairment on speech and language outcomes. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 97(7), 648.
Peter W. F (2013) “Linguanaut.” Stages of Language Learning. Ed. . Linguanaut, 6 May 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.