Natural Language Acquisition

What is Natural Language Acquisition?

What is Natural Language Acquisition?

In Natural Language Acquisition process, children will start to understand speech and tell it. This is a developmental process. All children are born with an innate capacity to learn language. It starts from infancy and goes on until they are able to speak well. When a child is born he/she starts communicating by making some sounds to communicate their needs.

The first sound an infant makes is crying, then cooing, vocalization and so on. These sounds are not taught by anyone. It happens naturally. Later on, natural language acquisition doesn’t just happen innately. Furthermore, it develops with environmental exposure the child is getting.

There are two ways of language Acquisition.

One is Analytical Language Development and the other is Gestalt Language Processing. Now let’s see what does each one of them mean.

What is Analytic Language Development?

In this, the children start speaking with sounds, then moving on to words, two word sentences, simple phrases and sentences and narration. In Analytic language development, each single word carries individual meaning like Milk, Fruit etc.

Stages of Analytic Language Development.
  • Children start using single meaningful word to communicate his/her need.
  • Gradually, they use 2 word combinations.
  • Sentence length increases.
  • They start to use proper grammar.
  • Intonation develops later.

For eg: Milk—More More—–Mom, More Milk—–Mom, I would like to have more milk please.

Click here to know about Normal Speech Milestones.

What is Gestalt Language Acquisition?

There is another kind of language acquisition. This is also a normal way of language acquisition. This happens mostly with Autistic children. And, that is called as Gestalt Language Processing. Gestalt means Wholes which mean whole word, whole sentence or whole song. This is mostly understood by their melody. They are often unclear too when the children say it first.

To make it simpler, we will look into an example. Usually, children start saying word and then move on to two word utterances, but what if the child doesn’t start with single words, instead sing a nursery rhyme or dialogue they heard in a Television. We call it as Echolalia which means, they repeat back what they heard. So this is Gestalt Processors, also referred to as intonation Babies.
For a Gestalt language Processor, they a take a sentence as one, like if we say, ‘I need to go out’, they understand it as whole. They will not take the words separately like ‘I’, ‘need’,’ to’, ‘go’, ‘Out’.

Click here to know more about Gestalt Language.

How do intonation babies learn Language?

  • They focus more on music and melody of language.
  • They tend to use words, complete sentences.
  • Use echolalia to communicate that is they repeat a dialogue from movie or sing a rhyme to communicate their need.
  • They learn to use grammatical skills later.
Stages of Gestalt Language Processing

There are four stages of Gestalt Language Processing.

  • Children use whole words to communicate their needs like echolalia.

For Example:  Milk is from Cow

  • Partial or Mitigated Gestalts

In this parts of a phrase are taken and then combined with other parts.

For Example: Milk is + good.

  • Single words are used mainly

In this stage, children start picking single meaningful words from the phrase they used.

For Example: They pick Milk as a single meaningful word.

  • Original sentences or Phrases are formed.

For Example: Milk and Biscuits are my favourite.

What are the signs that your child is Gestalt Processor?

  • Echolalia- The child will repeat what he/she hear.
  • They tend to speak in third person.
    For example: The child might say ‘He is hungry’.
  • They reverse pronouns. This happens because they just repeat what they hear without understanding the meaning of it.
  • They use more intonation or melody in speech.
  • They are mostly Autistics or Hyperlexic.

Gestalt Language Processing is also a kind of natural way of acquiring Language. But mostly, it’s seen in children who are Autistics or Hyperlexic.

  • Their Languages are inflexible

They mostly use the same type of utterance they hear. They keep using it in the same way for a long time without modifying it. Later, they start using it normally.

  •   Sentences are unclear

They imitate long sentences which they hear. Most of the sentences will be unclear.

In summary, Natural Language Acquisition is a process in which children understand and express language. There are two types of learning Language and that is Analytical Language Processing and Gestalt Language Processing. Both are normal ways of language acquisition.

In Analytical Language Processing, children tend to learn language from simple one word to simple utterances, sentences and so on. This kind of learning takes place with most of the children.

But in Gestalt Language Processing, the children mostly repeat phrases or sentences. They don’t take words as single units. They rely more on melody and intonation of speech.

Both of this Language Processing follows stages and children go through stages to achieve Language.

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  • Sarah

    This is super helpful, thanks for all the information

  • Deepthi

    Thank You so much

  • Meghan

    I’ve found that I can distinguish Gestalt Language Processors from Analytic Language Processors mostly from the rich intonation they often have, particularly if they are not producing true words/phrases yet. Echolalia is then of course a hallmark sign once they are talking.

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