LIGHTBOWN AND SPADA HOW LANGUAGES ARE LEARNED PDF
FOURTH EDITION. How Languages Are Learned (HLAL) started out as a series of professional called a 'drip feed' approach (Lightbown and Spada ). In subsequent cittadelmonte.info Toohey, K. ary level and striving with adolescents working to learn a second/ foreign .. correction, usually in formal language classrooms (Lightbown & Spada, ). Chapter 1 Extract PDF ( KB) Questions for Reflection PDF (53 KB) Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada on How Languages are Learned, fourth edition.
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Popular idras about language learning reuisitedway that learners working together can discover how to express or interpret Resmeaning in the. Fourth Edition How Languages are Learned OXFORD UNIVERSITY . The 3 Secrets To Your Bulimia Recovery ◇◇◇ cittadelmonte.info . Patsy M. Lightbown, Harwich, MA, USA Nina Spada, Toronto, ON. How Languages are Learned, by Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada. second language acquisition research can make you a better judge of.
Popular idras about language learning reuisitedway that learners working together can discover how to express or interpret Resmeaning in the second language. In order for this to happen, the tasks must qraibe carefully planned to give learners access to new language they need. Used tFcomtination with individual work and teacher-centred activities, it Incrmportant lng nlng. Even when the language teaching method provides much expr sayliricher language input, the fact that something is taught or made available in I7the input does not mean learners will acquire it right away. For example, Thesome aspects of the second language emerge and evolve according to 'natural' l. This hasbeen to be true for learners at different ages and in differentinstructional models-from audiolingual to communicative and content-based instruction.
How do children accomplish this? What enables a child not only to learn words, but to put them together in meaningful sentences? Does child language develop similarly around the world?
How do bilingual children acquire more than one language? In this chapter, we will look briefly at some of the characteristics of the language ofyoung children. There is an immense body of research on child language. Although much research has been done in middle-class North American and European families, there is a rich body of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural research as well.
Researchers have travelled all over the world to observe, record, and study children's early language development. The first three years: The earliest vocalizations are simply the involuntary crying that babies do rvhen thev are hungry or uncomfortable. Language learning in early childhood Soon, however, we hear the cooing and gurgling sounds of contented babies, lyt"g in their beds looking at fascinating shapes and moyement around them.
Even though they have little control over the sounds they make in these early weeks of life, infants are able to hear very subtle differences between the sounds of human languages. In cleverly designed experiments, Peter Eimas and his colleagues demonstrated that tiny babies can hear the difference bern'ee" 'pd and 'bd, for example.
And yer, ir may be many months before their own vocalizations babbling begin to reflect the characteristics of the language or languages they hear. By the end of their first yeaL most babies understand quite a few frequently repeated words. They wave when someone says 'bye-by. At twelve months, most babies will have begun to produce a word or two that everyone recognizes. By the age of two, most children reliably produce at least fifty different words and some produce many more.
About this time, they begin to combine words into simple sentences such as 'Mommy juice' and 'baby fall down. These senrences are sometimes called 'telegraphic' because they leave out suchiffiiiiTes. Remarkably, we also see evidence, even in these early sentences, that children are doing more than imperfectly imitatingwhat they have heard.
Their rwo- and threeword sentences show signs that they can creatively combine words. For example, 'more outside' may mean 'I want to go outside again. For some language features, these patterns have been described in terms of developmental sequences or 'stages'.
To some extent, these stages in language acquisition are related to childrent cognitive development. For example, children do not use temporal adverbs such as 'tomorrow' or 'last week' until they develop some understanding of time.
In other cases, the developmental sequences seem to refect the gradual mastery of the linguistic elements for expressing ideas that have been present in children's cognitive understanding for a long time. For example, children can distinguish between singular and plural long before they reliably add plural endings to nouns.
Mastering irregular plurals takes. Language learning in early childhood even more time and may not be completely under control until the school years.
Grammatical morphemes In the s, several researchers focused on how children acquire grammatical morphemes in English. One of the best-known studies was carried out by Roger Brown and his colleagues and students. In a roNcrruDINAL study of the language development of three children called Adam, Eve, and Sarah they found that fourteen grammatical morphemes were acquired in a remarkably similar sequence.
That research is reported in Brown's book. The list below adapted from that book shows some of the morphemes they studied. Thus, there was evidence for a 'developmental sequence'or order of acquisition. However, the children did not acquire the morphemes at the same age or rate.
Eve had mastered nearly all the morphemes before she was two-and-a-halfyears old, while Sarah and Adam were still working on them when theywere three-and-a-half or four.
Brown's longitudinal work was confirmed in a cnoss-sEcTloNer study of rwenry-one children. Jill and Peter de Villiers found that children who correcdy used the morphemes that Adam, Eve, and Sarah had acquired late were also able to use the ones that Adam, Eve, and Sarah had acquired earlier.
The children mastered the morphemes at different ages, just as Adam, Eve, and Sarah had done, but the order of their acquisition was very similar. Theywere similar to each other and similar to Adam, Eve, and Sarah. Many hypotheses have been advanced to explain why these grammatical morphemes are acquired in the observed order.
Researchers have studied the frequency with which the morphemes occur in parents' speech, the cognitive complexiry of the meanings represented by each morpheme, and the difficulry of perceiving or pronouncing them. In the end, there has been no simple satisfactory explanation for the sequence, and most researchers agree.
Language learning in early childhood that the order is determined by an interaction among a number of different factors. To supplement the evidence we have from simply observing children, some carefully designed procedures have been developed to further explore childrent knowledge of grammatical morphemes. In this 'test', children are shown drawings of imaginary creatures with n9v-elnames or people performing mysterious actions.
Nowthere are two ofthem. There are two '. Yesterday he did the same thing. Yesterday, he -'. By completing these sentences with 'wugs' and'bodda', children demonstrate that theyknow rules for the formation ofplural and simple past in English. By generalizing these patterns to words th. The acquisition of other language features also shows how childrent language develops systemati caIly, and how they go beyond what they have heard to create new forms and strucrures.
Negation Children learn the functions of negation very early. That is, they learn to comment on the disappearance ofobjects, to refuse a suggestion, or reject an assertion, eYen at the single word stage. However, as Lois Bloomt f ggf longitudinal studies show, erren though children understand these functions a1d express them with single words and gestures, ir takes some time before ah. The following srages in the derrilopm.
Simil"r rt"g. Stage I Negation is usually expressed by the word'no', either all alone or as the first word in the utterance. No cookie. No comb hair. Stage 2 Jtterances grow longer and the sentence subject may be included. The negative word appears just before the verb. Sentences expressing rejection or prohibition often use'dont'. Daddy no comb hair. Dont touch that! Language learning in early childhood Stage 3 The negative element is inserted into a more complex sentence.
Children may add forms of the negative other than 'no', including words like 'can't' and 'dont'. These sentences appear to follow the correct English pattern of attaching the negative to the auxiliary or modal verb.
However, children do not yet vary these forms for different persons or tenses: I can't do it. He don't want it. Stage 4 Children begin to attach the negative element to the correct form of auxiliary verbs such as 'do' and 'be': You didnt have supper.
She doesnt want it. Even though their language system is by now quite complex, they may sdll have difficulry with some other features related to negatives. I don't have no more candies. Questions The challenge of learning complex language systems is also illustrated in the developmental stages through which children learn to ask questions. There is a remarkable consistency in the way children learn to form questions in English.
For one thing, there is a predictable order in which the 'wh-words' emerge Bloom Identifying and locating people and objects are within the childs understanding of the world. In contrast to'what','where', and'who' questions, children sometimes ask the more cognitively difficult 'why', 'when', and 'how' quesrions without always understanding the answers they get, as the following conversation with a four-t'ear-old clearly shows:. Parent In about five minutes.
Child l!! Can we go now? The abiliry to use these question words is at least pardy tied to children's cognitive development. Thus it does not seem surprising that there is consistency in the sequence of their acquisition. This development is not baied orr l. Stage I Children's earliest questions are single words or simple rwo- or three-word sentences with rising intonation: Mummy book? At the same time, they may produce some correcr questions-correct because they have been learned as chunks: Stage 2 As they begin to ask more new questions, children use the word order of the declarative sentence, with rising intonation.
You like this? I have some? Stage 3 Gradually, children notice that the structure of questions is different and begin to produce quesrions such as: Can I go?
Are you happy? To describe this, we need ro ,.. Is the teddy is tired? Do I can have a cookie? Langaage learning in early cltildhood Stage 4 At stage 4, some questions are formed by subject-auxiliary inversion. The questions resemble those of stage 3, but there is more variety in the auxiliaries that appear before the subject. Are you going to play with me? At this stage, children can even add 'do' in questions in which there would be no auxiliary in the declarative version of the sentence.
Do dogs like ice cream? Even at this stage, however, children seem able to use either inversion or a uth- word, but not both. Are these your boots? Does Daddy have a box? Negative questions may still be a bit too difficult. And even tlough performance on most questions is correct, there is still one more hurdle. Ask him why cant he go out. Stage 6 At this stage, children are able to correctly form all question rypes, including negative and complex embedded questions Passage through developmental-sequences does not always follow a steady uninterrupted path.
Children appear to learn new things and then fall back on old patterns when there is added stress in a newsituation orwhen theyare using other new elements in their language. But the overall path takes them toward mastery of the language that is spoken around them. The pre-school years By the age of four, most children can ask questions, give commands, report real events, and create stories about irnaginary ones-using correct word order and grammadcal markers most of-the time.
Language learning in early childhood language or languages spoken to them in these early years. Three- and fouryear-olds continue to learn vocabulary at the rate ofseveral words a day. They begin to acquire less frequent and more complex linguistic structures such as passives and relative clauses.
Much of childrent language acquisition effort in the late pre-school years is spent in developirg their ability to use language in a widening social environment.
How Languages Are Learned - Lightbrown Spada
They use language in a greater variety of situations. They interact more often with unfamiliar adults. They begin to talk sensibly on the telephone to invisible grandparents younger children do not understand that their telephone paftner cannot see what they see. They acquire the aggressive or cajoling language that is needed to defend their toys in the playground. They show that they have learned the difference between how adults talk to babies and how they talk to each other, and they use this knowledge in elaborate pretend play in which they practise using these difFerent'voices'.
In this way, they explore and begin to understand how and why language varies. Three-year-old children can tell you that itt 'silly' to say'drink the chair', because it doesnt make sense.
However, although they would neyer say 'cake the eat', they are less sure that there's anything wrong with it. They may show that they know itt a bit odd, but they will focus mainly on the fact that they can understand what it means.
Five year-olds, on the other hand, know that'drink the chair' is wrong in a different way from'cake the eat'. They can tell you that one is 'silly' but the other is 'the wrong way around'. The school years Although pre-school children acquire complex knowledge and skills for language and language use, the school settingwill require newways of using language and bring new opportunities for language developmenr. Children develop the ability to understand language and to use it to express themselves in the pre-school years.
In the school years, these abilities expand and grow. Children also develop more sophisticated metalinguistic awareness. Learning to read gives a major boost to this aspect of language development.
Seeing words represented by letters and other symbols on a page leads children to a new understanding that language has form as well as meaning. Reading reinforces the understanding that a 'word' is separate from the thing it represents. Unlike three-year-olds, children who can read understand that 'the' is a word, just as 'house' is.
They understand that. Language learning in early childhood 'caterpillar' is a longer word than 'train', even though the object it represents is substantially shorter! Metalinguistic awareness also includes the discovery of such things as ambiguiry.
Knowing that words and sentences can have multiple meaning gives children access to word jokes, trick questions, and riddles, which they love to share with their friends and family.
One of the most impressive language developments in the early school years is the astonishing growth of vocabulary. Many words are acquired in early childhood, when the repetition of ordinary events and experiences provides frequent exposure to a limited number ofwords.
Children enter school with the abiliry to understand and produce hundreds or even a few thousand words. Many more are learned at school. In both the spoken and written language at school, some words for example, 'homework', 'ruler', and 'workbook appear frequently in situations where their meaning is either immediately or gradually revealed.
Vocabulary grows atatatebetween several hundred and more than a thousand words a year, depending mainly on how much and how widely children read Nagy, Herman, and Anderson The kind ofvocabulary growth required for school success is likely to come from both reading for assignments and reading for pleasure, whether narrative or non-fiction. Dee Gardner suggests that reading a variery of text types is an essential part of vocabulary growth. His research has shown how the range of vocabulary in narrative texts is different from that in non-fiction.
There are words in non-fiction texts that are unlikely to occur in stories or novels. In addition, non-fiction tends to include more oppoftunities to see a word in its different forms for example, 'mummy', 'mummies', 'mummified'. The importance of reading for vocabulary growth is seen when observant parents report a child using a new word but mispronouncing it in away that reveals it has been encountered only in written form.
Children learn how written language differs from spoken language, how the language used to speak to the principal is different from the language of the playground, how the language of a science report is different from the language of a narrative. AsTerry Piper and others have documented, some children will have even more to learn. They come to school speaking an ethnic or regional venrnrv of the school language that is quite different from the one used by the teacher.
Other children arrive at school speaking a different language altogether. For these children, the work of language learning in the earlv school years presents additional opportunities and challenges. More controversial, however, are questions about how this remarkable development takes place.
Over the past fifty years, three main theoretical positions have been advanced to explain it: The behauiourist perspectiue: Thaditional behaviourists hypothesized that when children imitated the language produced by those around them, their arremprs ro reproduce what they heard received positive reinforcemenr'. This could take the form of praise or just successful communication. Thus encouraged by their environment, children would continue to imitate and practisi these sounds and patterns until they formed 'habits' of correct language use.
According to this view, the qualiry and quantity of the language the child hears, as well as the consistency of the reinforcemenr offered by others in the environment, would shape the childt language behaviour. This theory gives great importance to the environment as the source of everything the child needs to learn. Analysing children's speech: Definitions and examples The behaviourists viewed imitation and practiceas the primary processes in language development.
To clarifywhat is meant by these rwo rerms, consider the following definitions and examples. Mother Shall we play with the dolls? Cindy He eat carrots. The other one eat carrots. They both eat carrots.
Now examine the transcripts from Peter, Cindy, and Kathryn. Theywere all about twenty-four months old when theywere recorded as they played with a visiting adult. Using the definitions above, notice how Peter imitates the adult in the following dialogue.
Language learning in early childhood Peter 24 months is playrng with a dump truck while rwo adults, patsy and Lois, look on. Peter Get more. Lois You're gonna put more wheels in the dump truck? Peter Dump truck. Dump truck. Dump truck! Lois Yes, the dump truck fell down. Peter Dump truck fell down. Unpublished data from P M. Lightbown Ifwe analysed alarger sample of Peter'sspeech, we would see rhar per cent of his sentences were imitations of what someone else had just said.
That ir, h. Detailed analyses of large samples of Petert speech orr. Once these new elements beiarn. Unlike a parrot who imitates the f"-ili"r and continues to repeat the t For- example, consider how Cindy imitates and practises ianguage in the following conversations. Cindy 24 months, 15 days is looking at a picture of a carrot in a book and trying ro ger Patsyt attention. Cindy Kawo? Patsy What are rhe rabbits eating? Cindy They eating Patsy No, thatt a carror.
The other carror. The other carrot. A few minutes later, cindy brings patsy a stuffed toy rabbit. Cindy incomprehensible eat the carrors. Cindy gers anorher stuffed rabbit. Cindy He incomprehensible eat carrots. The other one eat carrors. They both ear carrors. T2 Language learning in early childhood One week later, Cindy opens the book to the same page. Cindy Here's the carrots. Patsy Yes. Unpublished data from P. Lightbown Cindy appears to be working hard on her language acquisition.
She practises newwords and structures in a way that sounds like a student in some foreign language classes! Perhaps most interesting is that she remembers the 'hlnguage lesson' a week later and turns straight to the pagein the book she had not seen since Patsyt last visit.
The samples of speech from Peter and Cindy seem to lend some supporr to the behaviourist explanation of language acquisition. Even so, as we saw, rhe choice of what to imitate and practise seemed determined by somerhing inside the child rather than by the environment.
Not all children imitate and practise' as much as Peter and Cindy did. The amount of imitation in the speech of other children, whose development proceeded at a rare comparable to that of Cindy and Peter, has been calculated at less than 10 per cenr.
Consider the examples of imitation and practice in the following conversation between Kathryn and Lois. Kathryn 24 months Lois Did you see rhe toys I brought? I athty" I bring toys? Choo choo? Lois brought the choo choo train? Lois Yes, Lois brought the choo choo train. IGthry reaching for bag I want play with choo choo train. I want play with choo choo train. Lois Oh you know what that is. I athty- Put down on floor. I do this.
Kathryn puts the slide on rhe foor. I athty" taking out rwo cars of train Do this. I wanr do this. You can do it. Look I'll show you how. Lois puts it together. IGthryo searching in box I get more. Get a more. No more choo choo train. Get truck. Language learning in early childhood Lois Inside. Itt in the box. Kathryn A choo choo? Instead, she asks and answers questions and elaborates on the other speaker's questions or statements. Thus, children vary in the amount of imitation they do.
In addition, many of the things they say show that they are using language creatively, not just repeating what they have heard.
This is evident in the following examples. Patterns in language The first example shows a child in the process of learning patterns in language, in this case the rules of word formation, and overgeneralizing them to new contexts. Randall 35 months had a sore on his hand. Mother Maybe we need to take you to the doctor. So he can doc my little bump? Randall forms the verb'doc' from the noun'doctor', by analogywith farmers who farm, swimmers who swim, and actors who act.
Unfamiliarformulas Even older children have to work out some puzzles, for example, when familiar language is used in unfamiliar ways, as in the example below. Father I d like to propose a roasr. Several minutes later, David raised his glass: David I d like to propose a piece of bread. Onlywhen laughter sent David slinking from the table did the group realize that he wasn't intentionally making a play on words! He was concenrrating so hard on performing the fascinating new gesture and the formulaic expression'I'd like to propose Questionformation Randall 2 yearc,9 months asked the following questions in various situations over the course of a day.
Are dogs can wiggle their tails? Are those are my boots? Are this is hot? Randall had concluded that the trick of asking questions was to put 'are' ar the beginning of the sentence. His questions are good examples of Stage 3 in question development. Ordcr ofeuents Randall 3 years, 5 months was looking for a towel. You took all the towels away because I cant dry my hands. He meant 'I cant dry my hands because you took all the towels awat' , but he made a mistake about which clause comes first.
Children at this stage of language development tend to mention events in the order of their occurrence. In this case, the towels disappeared before Randall attempted to dry his hands, so thatt what he said first. He did not yet understand how a word like'before'or'because' changes the order of cause and effect. These examples of children's speech provide us with a window on rhe process of language learning.
Imitation and practice alone cannot explain some of the forms created by the children. They are not merely repetitions of sentences that they have heard from adults. Rather, children appear to pick out parrerns and gene nltze them to new contexts. They create new forms or new uses of words. Their new sentences are usually comprehensible and often correcr.
Behaviourism seems to offer a reasonable way of understanding how children learn some of the regular and routine aspects of language, esp"ecially at the earliest stages. However, children who do little overr imitation acquire.
Language learning in early childhood language as fully and rapidly as those who imitate a lot. And although behaviourism goes some way to explaining the sorrs of ovsncENERALrzATroN that children make, classical behaviourism is nor a satisfactory explanarion for the acquisition of the more complex grammar that children acquire. These limitations led researchers to look for different explanarion; for language acquisition.
The innatist perspectiae: It's all in your mind Noam Chomsky is one of the most influential figures in linguistics, and his ideas about how language is acquired and how it is stor. I"hir t eed the behaviourist explanation for language acquisition. For example, every child willJe'arn to ri- t and reasonable freedom ofmovement are provided. The child does not have to be taught. Most children learn to ri-alk at about the same age, and walking is essentially the same in all normal human beings.
For Chomsky, language acquisition is very similar. Chomsky argued that the behaviourist theory failed ro account for 'the logical problem of language acquisition'-the fact that children come to know more about the structure of their language than they could reasonably be expected to learn on the basis of the samplis of language they hear.
He concluded ihat childrent irindt are not blank slates to be filled by imitating language t[. These English sentences contain the refexive pronoun 'himself'. Both the pronoun and the noun it refers to the antecedent are printed in italics. An asterisk at the beginning of a sentence indicates that the sentence is ungrammatical. In a and b , it looks as if the reflexive pronoun must follow the noun it refers to. But c disproves this: Ifwe consider sentences such as: However, h shows that this rule won't work either: Usually the refexive must be in the same clause as the antecedent as in a and d , but not always, as in h.
Furthermore, the refexive can be in the subject position in i but not i" j. In some cases, more than one antecedent is possible, as in k where the refexive could refer to eitherJohn or Bill: And yet, most school age children would be able to correcdy interpret the grammatical sentences and recognize the ungrammaticality of the others.
Researchers who study language acquisition from the innatist perspective argue that such complex grammar could never be learned purely on the basis of imitating and practising sentences available in the input. They hypothesize that since all children acquire the language of their environment, they must have some innate mechanism or knowledge that allows them to discover such complex syntax in spite of limitations of the input.
They hypothesize furthermore that the innate mechanism is used exclusively for language acquisition. Language learning in early childhood The innatist perspective emphasizes the fact that all children successfully acquire their native language or languages if they live in a multilingual community.
Children who are profoundly deaf will learn sign language if they are exposed to it in infancy, and their progress in the acquisition of that language system is similar to hearing childrent acquisition of spoken Ianguage.
Even children with very limited cognitive abiliry develop quite complex language systems if they are brought up in environments in which people interact with them. Children master the basic syntax and morphoiogy of the language spoken to them in a variery of conditions-some x'hich would be expected to enhance language development for example, caring, attentive parents who focus on the child s language , and some which might be expected to inhibit it for example, abusive or re.
Children achieve different levels ofvocabulary, creativiry social gtace, and so on, but virtually all achieve mastery of the structure of the language or languages spoken to them. This is seen as support for the hypothesis that language is somehow separate from other aspects of cognitive developmenr and may depend on a specific module of the brain. However, history has documented a few 'natural experiments' where children have been deprived of contact '".
Two of the most famous cases are those ofVictor and Genie. Not all children imitate and practise as much as Peter and Cindy did. The amount of imitation in the speech of other children, whose development proceeded at a rate comparable to that of Cindy and Peter, has been cal culated at less than 1O per cent.
Consider the examples of imitation and practice in the following conversation between Kathryn and Lois. Choo choo? Lois brought the choo choo train? I want play with choo choo train. What's this? LOIS Oh you know what that is.
I do this. Kathryn puts the slide on the floor. I want do this. You can do it. Look I'll show you how. Get a more. No more choo choo train. Get truck. Where a more choo choo train? LOIS Inside. It's in the box. Instead, she asks md answers questions and elaborates on the other speaker's questions or statements. In addition, many of the things they say show that they are using language creatively, not just repeating what they have heard. This is evident in the following examples. Patterns inlanguage The first example shows a child in the process of learning patterns in lan guage, in this case the rules of word formation, and overgeneralizing them to new contexts.
Randall 36 months had a sore on his hand. So he can doc my little bump? Randall forms the verb 'doc' from the noun 'doctor', by analogy with farmers who farm, swimmers who swim, and actors whoact. Focus on meaning Even older children have to work out sorne puzzles, for example, when famil iar language is used in unfamiliar ways, as in the example below. When David 5 years, 1 month was at his older sister's birthday party, toasts were pro posed with grape juice in stemmed glasses: Only when laughter sent David slinking from the table did the group realize that he wasn't intentionally making a play on words!
He was concentrating Questionformation Randall 2 years, 9 months asked the fallowing questions in various situa tions over the course of a day. Are dogs can wiggle their tails? Are those are my boots? Are this is hot? Randall had concluded that the trick of asking questions was to put 'are' at the beginning of the sentence.
His questions are good examples of Stage 3 in question development. Order of events Randall 3 years, 5 months was looking far a towel.
You took all the towels away because I can't dry my hands. He meant 'I can't dry my hands because you took all the towels away', but he made a mistake about which clause comes first. Children at this stage of language development tend to mention events in the order of their occur rence.
In this case, the towels disappeared befare Randall attempted to dry his hands, so that's what he said first. He did not yet understand how a word like 'befare' or 'because' changes the order of cause and effect. These examples of children's speech provide us with a window on the process of language learning.
Imitation and practice alone cannot explain sorne of the farms created by children. They are not merely repetitions of sentences that they have heard from adults. Rather, children appear to pick out patterns and generalize them to new contexts. They create new farms or new uses of words.
Their new sentences are usually comprehensible and often correct. Behaviourism seems to offer a reasonable way of understanding how children learn sorne of the regular and routine aspects oflanguage, especially at the ear liest stages. However, children who do little overt imitation acquire language as fully and rapidly as those who imitate a lot. And although behaviourism goes sorne way to explaining the sorts of overgeneralization that children make, classical behaviourism is not a satisfactory explanation far the acquisi rion of the more complex grammar that children acquire.
These limitations ledresearchers to look far different explanations far language acquisition. The innatist perspective is related to Chomsky's hypothesis that all human languages are based on sorne innate universal principles. In his review of B.
Skinner's book Verbal Behavior, Chomsky chal lenged the behaviourist explanation far language acquisition. He argued that children are biologically programmed far language and that language devel ops in the child in just the same way that other biological functions develop. Far example, every child will learn to walk as long as adequate nourishment and reasonable freedom of movement are provided.
The child does not have to be taught. Most children learn to walk at about the same age, and walking is essentially the same in all normal human beings. Far Chomsky, language acquisition is very similar. The environment makes only a basic contribu tion-in this case, the availability of people who speak to the child. The child, or rather, the child's biological endowment, will do the rest.
Chomsky argued that the behaviourist theory failed to account far 'the logical problem oflanguage acquisition'-the fact that children come to know more about the structure of their language than they could reasonably be expected to learn on the basis of the samples of language they hear. The language children are exposed to includes false starts, incomplete sentences, and slips of the tangue, and yet they learn to distinguish between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences.
He concluded that children's minds are not blank slates to be filled by imitating language they hear in the environment. Instead, he hypothesized, children are born with a specific innate ability to discover far themselves the underlying rules of a language system on the basis of the samples of a natural language they are exposed to. This innate endowment was seen as a sort of templare, containing the principles that are universal to all human languages.
This universal grammar UG would prevent the child from pursuing all sorts of wrong hypotheses about how language systems might work. Ifchildren are pre-equipped with UG, then what they have to learn is the ways in which the language they are acquiring makes use of these principles.
Consider the fallowing sentences, from a book by Lydia White These English sentences contain the reflexive pronoun 'himself'. Both the pronoun and the noun it refers to the antecedent are printed in italics.
An asterisk at the beginning of a sentence indicares that the sentence is ungrammatical. Language learning in earlychildhood 21 In a and b , it looks as if the reflexive pronoun must follow the noun it refers to. But e disproves this: Ifwe consider sentences such as: However, h shows that this rule won't work either: And it's even more complicated than that.
Usually the reflexive must be in the same clause as the antecedent as in a and d , but not always, as in h. Furthermore, the reflexive can be in the subject position in i but not in j. In sorne cases, more than one antecedent is possible, as in k where the reflexive could refer to either John or Bill: When we look at this kind of complexity, it seems it would be very hard to learn, and children do make errors along the way.
Yet, most school-age children would be able to correctly interpret the grammatical sentences and recognize the ungrammaticality of the others. Researchers who study language acquisition from the innatist perspective argue that such complex grammar could never be learned purely on the basis of imitating and practis ing sentences available in the input.
They hypothesize that since all children acquire the language of their environment, they must have sorne innate mechanism or knowledge that allows them to discover such complex syntax in spite of limitations of the input. They hypothesize furthermore that the innate mechanism is used exclusively for language acquisition.
The innatist perspective emphasizes the fact that almost all children success fully acquire their native language-or more than one language if they live in a multilingual community. Children who are profoundly deaf will learn sign language if they are exposed to it in infancy, and their progress in the acquisition of that language system is similar to hearing children's acquisition of spoken language. Even children with very limited cognitive ability develop quite complex language systems if they are brought up in environments in which people interact with them.
Children achieve different levels of vocabulary, creativity, social grace, and so on, but virtually all achieve the ability to use the patterns of the language or languages spoken to them. This is seen as support for the hypothesis that language is somehow separare from other aspects of cognitive development and may depend on a specific module of thebrain.
The Critica! Period Hypothesis The innatist perspective is often linked to the Critica! Period Hypothesis CPH -the hypothesis that animals, including humans, are genetically programmed to acquire certain kinds of knowledge and skill at specific times in life.
Beyond those 'critica! With regard to language, the CPH suggests that chil dren who are not given access to language in infancy and early childhood because of deafness or extreme isolation will never acquire language if these deprivations go on for too long.
However, history has documented a few 'natural experiments' where children have been deprived of contact with language. Two of the most famous cases are those of 'Victor' and 'Genie'. In , a hoy who became known as Victor was found wandering naked in the woods in France. His story was dramatized in a film by Frarn;: When Victor was captured, he was about 12 years old and completely wild, apparently having had no contact with humans.
Jean-Marc-Gaspard ltard, a young doctor accustomed to working with deaf children, devoted five years to socializing Victor and trying to teach him language. Although he succeeded to sorne extent in devel oping Victor's sociability, memory, and judgement, there was little progress in his languageability.
Neirly years later, Genie, a year-old girl who had been isolated, neglected, and abused, was discovered in California. Because of the irrational demands of a disturbed father and the submission and fear of an abused mother, Genie had spent more than 11 years tied to a chair or a crib in a small, darkened room. Her father had forbidden his wife and son to speak to Genie and had himself only growled and barked at her.
She was beaten when she made any kind of noise, and she had long since resorted to complete silence. Genie was undeveloped physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
She had no language. Language learningin earlychildhood 23 After she was discovered, Genie was cared for and educated with the par ticipation of many teachers and therapists, including Susan Curtiss After a brief period in a rehabilitation centre, she lived in a foster home and attended special schools. Genie made remarkable progress in becoming socialized and cognitively aware. She developed deep personal relationships and strong individual tastes and traits. Nevertheless, after five years of expo sure to language, Genie's language was not like that of a typical five-year old.
There was a larger than normal gap between comprehension and produc tion. She used grammatical forms inconsistently and overused formulaic and routine speech. Although Victor and Genie appear to provide evidence in support of the CPH, it is difficult to argue that the hypothesis is confirmed on the basis of evidence from such unusual cases. We cannot know what other factors besides biological maturity might have contributed to their inability to learn language.
It is not possible to determine whether either of them suffered from brain damage, developmental delays, or a specific language impair ment, even befare they were separated from normal human interaction. A more appropriate test of the CPH is the case of children who come from homes where they receive love and care from their parents, yet do not have access to language at the usual time. This is the case for sorne profoundly deaf children who have hearing parents.
Only O per cent of the pro foundly deaf are born to deaf parents, and only these children are likely to be exposed to ASL from birth. Hearing parents may not realize that their child cannot hear because the child uses other senses to interact in an apparently normal way.
Thus, the early childhood period may be normal in most ways but devoid of language that is accessible to the child. These children's later experience in learning sign language has been the subject of sorne important research related to the CPH. Like oral and written languages, American Sign Language ASL makes use of grammatical markers to indicate such things as time for example, past tense and number.
These markers are expressed through specific hand or body movements. Elissa Newport and her colleagues studied the ability of deaf users of ASL to produce and comprehend grammatical markers. They found no difference between the groups in sorne aspects of their use of ASL, for example in vocabulary knowl edge. However, on tests focusing on grammatical markers, the Native group used the markers more consistently than the Early group who, in turn, used them more consistently than the Late group.
The researchers concluded that Another line of research that has given new insight into the importance of early language experience comes from studies of 'international adoptees.
In their review of studies of international adoptees, Johanne Paradis, Fred Genesee, and Martha Crago concluded that cognitive and linguistic outcomes were generally very positive. Sorne comparisons of their language with that of children the same age who had always heard the same language showed that subtle differences persist even after several years, but these are not the kinds of differences that most people would notice.
Here again, of course, one cannot know whether something other than a late exposure to the language spoken in the adoptive environment also contributed to differences between these children and others who did not experience an abrupt change in their language environment.
Nevertheless, with continuing research on children's linguistic behaviours and intuitions, as well as the neurological studies of infants' speech perception that we saw above, it is becoming clearer that language acquisition begins at birth, and possibly even befare, as the child's brain is shaped by exposure to the language s in the environment.
The innatist perspective is thus partly based on evidence that there is a criti cal period for language acquisition. It is also seen as an explanation for 'the logical problem of language acquisition', that is, the question of how adult speakers come to know the complex structure of their first language on the basis of the limited samples oflanguage to which they are exposed. They argue that the innatists place too much emphasis on the 'final state' the competence of adult native speakers and not enough on the developmental aspects oflanguage acquisition.
In their view, language acquisi tion is but one example of the human child's ability to learn from experience, and they see no need to assume that there are specific brain structures devoted to language acquisition. They hypothesize that what children need to know is essentially available in the language they are exposed to as they hear it used in thousands of hours of interactions with the people and objects aroundthem.
Psychologists attribute considerably more importance to the environment than the innatists do even though they also recognize a powerful learning mechanism in the human brain. They see language acquisition as similar to and infl.
Language learning in earlychildhood 25 the child's experience and cognitive development. Indeed, researchers such as Dan Slobin have long emphasized the close relationship between children's cognitive development and their acquisition oflanguage.
In the early decades of the 20th century, Piaget observed infants and children in their play and in their interaction with objects and people. He was able to trace the development of their cognitive understand ing of such things as object permanence knowing that things hidden from sight are still there , the stability of quantities regardless of changes in their appearance knowing that 1O pennies spread out to form a long line are not more numerous than 10 pennies in a tightly squeezed line , and logical inferencing figuring out which properties of a set of rods their size, weight, material, etc.
For example, the use of certain terms such as 'bigger' or 'more' depends on the children's understanding of the con cepts they represent. The developing cognitive understanding is built on the interaction between the child and the things that can be observed or manipu lated. For Piaget, language was one of a number of symbol systems that are developed in childhood. Language can be used to represent knowledge that children have acquired through physical interaction with the environment.
Another influential student of child development was the psychologist Lev Vygotsky He observed interactions among children and also between children and adults in schools in the Soviet Union in the s and s.
He concluded that language develops primarily from social interaction. He argued that in a supportive interactive environment, children are able to advance to higher levels of knowledge and performance.
Vygotsky referred to a metaphorical place in which children could do more than they would be capable of doing independently as the zone of proximal development ZPD. Vygotsky observed the importance of conversations that children have with adults and with other children and saw in these conversations the origins of both language and thought.
The conversations provide the child with scaf folding, that is, a kind of supportive structure that helps them make the most of the knowledge they have and also to acquire new knowledge.
Vygotsky's view differs from Piaget's. Piaget saw language as a symbol system that could be used to express knowledge acquired through interaction with the physical world.
For Vygotsky, thought was essentially internalized speech, and speech emerged in social interaction. Vygotsky's views have become increasingly central in research on second language development, as we will see in Chapter 4.
The research has focused not only on the development oflanguage itself, but also on the ways in which the environment provides what children need for language acquisi tion. Between and , Dan Slobin edited five volumes devoted to research on the acquisition of 28 languages, providing examples and analyses of child language and the language-learning environment from communities around the world.
One feature of cross-cultural research is the description of child-rearing pat terns. Catherine Snow and others have studied the apparent effects on language acquisition of the ways in which adults talk to and interact with young children. In middle-class North American homes, researchers observed that adults often modify the way they speak when talking to little children.
How Languages Are Learned - Lightbrown Spada
This child-directed speech may be characterized by a slower rate of delivery, higher pitch, more varied intonation, shorter, simpler sentence pat terns, stress on key words, frequent repetition, and paraphrase. Furthermore, tapies of conversation emphasize the child's immediate environment, picture books, or experiences that the adult knows the child has had.
Adults often repeat the content of a child's utterance, but they expand or recast it into a grammatically correct sentence. For example, when Peter says, 'Dump truck! Language learningin earlychildhood 27 Researchers working in a 'language socialization' framework have found that the kind of child-directed speech observed in middle-class American homes is by no means universal.
In sorne societies, adults do not engage in conversation or verbal play with very young children. For example, Bambi Schieffelin found that Kaluli mothers in Papua New Guinea did not consider their children t o be appropriate conversational partners. Martha Crago observed that in traditional lnuit society, children are expected t o watch and listen t o adults.
They are not expected or encouraged to par ticipate in conversations with adults until they are older and have more developed language skills. Other researchers have observed that in sorne societies, young children inter act primarily with older siblings who serve as their caregivers. Even within the United States, Shirley Brice Heath and others have documented substantial differences in the ways parents in different socioeconomic and ethnic groups interact with their children.
Nevertheless, in every society, children are in situations in which they hear language that is meaningful to them in their environment. And they acquire the community language. Thus, it is difficult t o judge the long-term effect of the modifications that sorne adults make in speech addressed t o children. Jacqueline Sachs and her colleagues studied the language development of a child they called Jim. Hewas a hearing child of deaf parents, and his only contact with oral language was through television, which he watched frequently.
The family was unusual in that the parents did not use sign language with Jim. Thus, although in other respects he was well cared for, Jim did not begin his linguistic development in a normal environment in which a parent communicated with him in either oral or sign language. A language assessment at three years and nine months indicated that he was well below age level in all aspects of language.
Although he attempted to express ideas appropriate to his age, he used unusual, ungrammatical word order. When Jim began conversational sessions with an adult, his expressive abili ties began to improve.
By the age of four years and two months most of the unusual speech patterns had disappeared, replaced by language more typical of his age. Jim's younger brother Glenn did not display the same type of language delay. Glenn's linguistic environment was different from Jim's: The fact that he had failed to acquire language nor mally prior to this experience suggests that impersonal sources oflanguage such as television or radio alone are not sufficient.
One-to-one interaction gives chil dren access to language that is adjusted to their level of comprehension. When a child does not understand, the adult may repeat or paraphrase. Theresponse of the adult may also allow children to find out when their own utterances are understood. Television, for obvious reasons, does not provide such interaction. Even in children's programmes, where simpler language is used and topics are relevant to younger viewers, no immediate adjustment is made for the needs of an individual child.
Once children have acquired sorne language, however, television can be a source oflanguage and cultural information. Usage-based learning fu more and more research has documented the ways in which children interact with the environment, developmental and cognitive psychologists find further evidence that language acquisition is 'usage-based'.
Inthis view, language acquisition is possible because of children's general cognitive capac ities and the vast number of opportunities they have to make connections between the language they hear and what they experience in their environ ment. Sophisticated electronic recording devices have been used to track and count words and phrases children hear in their daily lives.
Deb Roy documented his son's acquisition of words, showing the frequency and the contexts for the occurrence of language.
Most remarkable, perhaps, is the demonstration of the power of interaction between the child and the adults and how adults focus on the language the child has begun to use Roy The usage-based perspective on language acquisition differs from the behav iourist view in that the emphasis is more on the child's ability to create networks of associations rather than on processes of imitation and habit for mation.
Referred to by various names, including cognitive linguistics, this view also differs sharply from the innatists' because language acquisition is not seen as requiring a separate 'module of the mind' but rather depends on the child's general leaming abilities and the contributions of the environ ment.
As Elena Lieven and Michael Tomasello put it, 'Children leam language from their language experiences-there is no other way' p. According to this view, what children need to know is essentially available to them in the language they are exposed to.
Sorne of the early research in this framework was done in the context of con nectionism and involved computer simulations in which language samples were provided as input to a fairly simple program. The goal was to show that the computer could 'leam' certain things if exposed to enough examples. The program was found to be able to sort out the pattems from the input and even generalize beyond what it was actually exposed to. Iteven made the Languagelearning in early childhood 29 samekinds of creative 'mistakes' that children make, such as putting a regular -ed ending on an irregular verb, for example, eated.
In a usage-based model, language acquisition involves not only associating words with elements of externa! For example, children learning languages in which nouns have grammatical gender learn to associ ate the appropriate article and adjective forms with nouns. So if children are learning French, they learn that la and une go with chaise chair and le and un go with livre book. Similarly, they learn to associate pronouns with the verb forms that mark person and number-ilaime he likes and nous aimons we like.
They also learn which temporal adverbs go with which verbtenses. Of particular importance to this hypothesis is the fact that children are exposed to many thousands of opportunities to learn words and phrases. For usage-based theorists, acquisition of language, while impressive, is not the only remarkable feat accomplished by the child.
They compare it to other cognitive and percep rual learning, including learning to 'see'. That is, the visual abilities that we cake for granted, for example, focusing on and interpreting objects in our ,risual field, are actually learned through experience.
Language disorders and delays Although most children progress through the stages of language develop ment without significant difficulty or delay, there are sorne children for whom this is not the case.
A discussion of the various types of disabilities including deafness, articulatory problems, autism, dyslexia, and so on that sometimes affect language development is outside the scope of this book. In very young children, one way to determine whether delayed language reflects a problem or simply an individual difference within the normal range is to determine whether the child responds 'ID language and appears to understand even ifhe or she is not speaking.
For older children, delays in learning to read that seem out of keeping with a child's overall cognitive functioning may suggest that there is a specific problem in that domain. Sorne children seem to begin reading almost by magic, discovering the mysteries of print with little direct instruction. The Handbook ofsecond LanguageAcquisition. Ga Ellis, N. At the interface: Dynamic interactions of explicit and Ini fur implicit language knowledge.
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