Psychology of Language

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Psychology
Terms offered: 
Fall
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Prerequisites: 

Major in psychology or permission of the instructor.

Description: 

Language is the most important window to the world and at the same time a remarkable accomplishment.  Yet, the complex processes involved in language comprehension and production are often taken for granted. Consequently this class looks at the wonder of language from a psycholinguistic point of view dealing with the psychological processes involved in language.  The students spend a term living in Vienna and learning German. The new cultural and linguistic environment will embed this course in an evolving and first-hand cultural perspective on language.

Attendance policy: 
  • IES Abroad Vienna requires attendance at all class sessions, including field study excursions, internship meetings, scheduled rehearsals, and exams. Attendance will be monitored and unexcused absences will affect the student’s grade via the “Participation” component of each course’s final grade.
  • Excused absences are permitted only when a student is ill, when class is held on a recognized religious holiday traditionally observed by the particular student, or in the case of a grave incident affecting family members.
  • To be granted an excused absence the student must write an email to their professor in a timely manner stating the reason for the absence with a cc to Center administrative staff. In an emergency, the student may call Student Services or the Front Desk.
  • This email must explain why they will be absent (and, if appropriate, how long they expect to be away).
  • If they are unable to send an email (too sick, no computer) they may call the Student Assistant at the front desk (01/512 2601-11) who will then write the email described above and send it to said parties as stated above, plus a cc to the student.
  • If a student is least 3 consecutive days or more, he/she will need to obtain a doctor’s note and then submit this to the Registrar’s office.
Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Characterize human language and describe how it differs from animal language.
  • Characterize  the methods of research employed in psycholinguistic.
  • Assess theories on first language acquisition in light of Chomsky´s position as opposed to learning theories.
  • Assess and illustrate several theories of second language learning and bilingualism and their being subject to cultural influence.
  • Explain mental representations underlying adult language use.
  • Illustrate the stages of language comprehension both top down and bottom up.
  • Judge several theories that explain specific language impairment.
  • Explain the connection between specific language impairment and dyslexia.
  • Outline major theories in sociolinguistics including discourse analysis and pragmatics.
  • Design and carry out a small study in the field of psycholinguistics.
Method of presentation: 

Seminar format, discussions, student presentations, excursion, designing and conducting a basic research study in the field of psycholinguistics

Required work and form of assessment: 

For some units students will be given reading assignments. Having read through them in advance is important for the quality of the course so that more time can be dedicated to classroom activities and discussion. The required readings are on reserve in the library. In general they can be found on the e-learning platform Moodle.

Grade components:

  • Written midterm test (20%)
  • Students are required to design, conduct and discuss a basic research study in the field of psycholinguistics, and give a presentation and write a term paper based on this research (ca. 10 pages). (30%)
  • Written final exam (30%)
  • Class participation (20%)
content: 

Week 1
Language
Is language uniquely human? – building blocks of language: prosody - phonemes – syllables – words – sentences – text - issues and controversies in psycholinguistics

  • Altmann, G. , T.M “Looking towards Babel”,1996. Pp. 1-9.
  • Harley, T. “The study of language”, 2001. Pp. 3-26.
  • Pinker, S. “An instinct to acquire an art”, 1994. Pp. 15-24.

Week 2
Research methods in Psycholinguistics
The framework of a psychological experiment – data and data analysis – design – quality control – special issues in psycholinguistic research: priming, lexical decision and eye-tracking – clinical language tests – research methods in second language learning

  • Banyard, P., Grayson, A.  “Methodology”, 1996, Pp. 417-450.
  • Brown, J.,  Rodgers, S. “The nature of research”, 2002. Pp. 3-18.
  • Raffray, C.N., Pickering, M.J. , Branigan, H.P,  „Priming the interpretation of noun–noun combinations.“, (2007), pp.  380–395. 

Week 3
The mental processes behind language: language development

Nature or nurture? - Chomsky´s theory of language development - the innateness hypothesis - Skinner´s view of early language learning - Bandura and modelling - Chomsky and Piaget - the cognitive basis of language - critical period for language acquisition

  • Crain, W. “Chomsky’s theory of language development”, 2005. Pp. 348-367.
  • Harley, T. “Language development”, 2001. Pp. 91-130.
  • Jusczyk, P.W. “How infants begin to extract words from speech”, (1999), pp.323-328
  • Zimbardo, P. “Language development”. Annenberg learner videos on demand, retrieved from http://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=1530

Week 4
The mental processes behind language: Second language learning
Learning or acquisition? - contrastive hypothesis – monitor model of second language learning - bilingualism – emotions and prosody

  • Altarriba, J. “Bilingualism: Language, Memory and Applied Issues”, (2002).
  • Schoonbaert, S., Hartsuiker, R.J., & Pickering, M.J. The representation of lexical and syntactic information in bilinguals (2007). pp. 153-171.
  • Urtin, S., Heinlein, K.B. & Werker, J. “Bilingual beginnings as a lens for theory development”, (2011) pp. 492-504.

Week 5
The mental structures behind language
Representations underlying adult language usage - the mental lexicon -  lexical access – neural structures and artificial intelligence – connectionist models

  • Altmann, Gerry, T.M “Words and how we (eventually) find them”, 1997. Pp. 65-83.
  • Marslen-Wilson, W.  & Warren, P. “Levels of perceptual representation and process in lexical access: words, phonemes, and features”, (1994), pp. 653-675
  • Ellis A, Lambon Ralph MA. (2000). “Age of acquisition effects in adult lexical processing: insights from connectionist networks”, (2000), pp. 1103-23

Week 6
Midterm test

Week 7
Language comprehension
Stages in language comprehension bottom up and top down - speech recognition - word recognition - phonological short term memory

  • Bishop, D. “From sound to meaning: a framework for analysing comprehension, 1997. Pp. 1-18.
  • Cowan, N & Keller, A. “Verbal Memory Span in Children”, (1994), pp. 234-250.
  • Majerus, S. & Van der Linden, M. “Long-Term Memory Effects on Verbal Short-Term memory: a Replication Study”, (2003), pp. 303-310.

Week 8
Specific language impairment
SLI as a developmental disorder - Phonological memory hypothesis - rapid auditory processing hypothesis - feature blind hypothesis

  • Bishop, D. “Specific Language Impairment”, (2008).
  • Bishop, D. “What causes specific language impairment in children (2006), pp.  217–221.
  • Clegg, J., Hollis, C., Mawhood, L., Rutter, M. “Developmental language disorders – a follow-up in later adult life”, (2005), No. 2, pp. 128-149

Week 9
Written language and dyslexia
Specific reading disorder- phonological representation theory - early precursors – graphem-phoneme correspondence – phonological awareness and reading development – specific language impairment and dyslexia

  • Bishop, Dorothy V. M.& Snowling, Margaret J. „Developmental Dyslexia and Specific Language Impairment: Same or Different?“, (2004), pp. 858-886.
  • Bryant, P.E., Bradley, L. Maclea, M. & Crossland, J. “Nursery rhymes, phonological skills and reading”, (1989), pp. 407-28
  • Goswami, U. “Toward an Interactive Analogy Model of Reading Development: Decoding Vowel Graphemes in Beginning Reading”, (1993), pp. 443-75

Week 10
Sociolinguistics
Pragmatics - theory of mind - discourse analysis - mental models and the world - referential communication - paralinguistic cues - universal or culture specific - models to describe different cultures – how culture influences our communication

  • Pickering, M.J. (2006). „The dance of dialogue“, (2006), pp.  734-737.
  • Hofstede, G. “Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. “, (2011). Retr.  from http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol2/iss1/8
  • Labov, W.  “The logic of nonstandard English”, (1969), pp. 1 – 31.

Week 11
Presentation and discussion of students’ studies

Week 12
Final exam

Required readings: 
  • Altarriba, J. “Bilingualism: Language, Memory and Applied Issues”, in  Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 4. (2002).
  • Altmann, Gerry, T.M “Looking towards Babel”, in Altmann, Gerry, T.M. The Ascent of Babel, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Pp. 1-9.
  • Altmann, Gerry, T.M “Words and how we (eventually) find them”, in Altmann, Gerry, T.M. The Ascent of Babel, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Pp. 65-83.
  • Banyard, P., Grayson, A.  “Methodology”, in Banyard, P., Grayson, A.  Introducing Psychological research. Seventy studies that shape psychology. Houndmills: Palgrave, 1996, Pp. 417-450.
  • Bishop, D. “From sound to meaning: a framework for analysing comprehension”, in Bishop, D. Uncommon understanding. Development and Disorders of Language Comprehension in Children. Hove: Psychology Press, 1997. Pp. 1-18.
  • Bishop, Dorothy V. M.& Snowling, Margaret J. „Developmental Dyslexia and Specific Language Impairment: Same or Different?“, in  Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130 (2004), No. 6, pp. 858-886.
  • Bishop, D. “What causes specific language impairment in children?”, in  Current Directions in Psychological  Science, Vol. 15( 2006), No. 5, pp.  217–221.
  • Bishop, D. “Specific Language Impairment”, in State-of-Science-Review, SRD-1 (2008).
  • Bryant, P.E., Bradley, L. Maclea, M. & Crossland, J. “Nursery rhymes, phonological skills and reading”, in Journal of Child Language, Vol. 16 (1989), pp. 407-28
  • Brown,J, Rodgers, S. “The nature of research”, in Brown,J, Rodgers, S. Doing second language research. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. 3-18.
  • Clegg, J., Hollis, C., Mawhood, L., Rutter, M. “Developmental language disorders – a follow-up in later adult life. Cognitive, language and psychosocial outcomes.”, in Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, Vol. 46(2005), No. 2, pp. 128-149
  • Cowan, N & Keller, A. “Verbal Memory Span in Children: Speech Timing Clues to the Mechanisms Underlying Age and Word Length Effects”, in Journal of Memory and Language, Vol. 33 (1994), pp. 234-250.
  • Crain, W. “Chomsky’s theory of language development”, in Crain, W. Theories of Development. Concepts and Applications. New York: Pearson, 2005. Pp. 348-367.
  • Ellis A, Lambon Ralph MA. (2000). “Age of acquisition effects in adult lexical processing reflect loss of plasticity in maturing systems: insights from connectionist networks.”, in Journal of  Experimental  Psychology:  Learning,  Memory and Cognition, Vol. 26 (2000), No. 55, pp. 1103-23
  • Goswami, U. “Toward an Interactive Analogy Model of Reading Development: Decoding Vowel Graphemes in Beginning Reading.“, in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 5, No. 3 (1993), pp. 443-75
  • Harley, T. “The study of language”, in Harley, T. The Psychology of Language. Hove: Psychology Press Taylor & Francis, 2001. Pp. 3-26.
  • Harley, T. “Language development”, in Harley, T. The Psychology of Language. Hove: Psychology Press Taylor & Francis, 2001. Pp. 91-130.
  • Hofstede, G. “Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. “, in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 2. (2011). Retr.  from http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol2/iss1/8
  • Jusczyk, P.W. “How infants begin to extract words from speech”, in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 3 (1999), No. 9, pp.323-328.
  • Labov, W.  “The logic of nonstandard English”, in Georgetown Monographs on Language and Linguistics, 2 (1969), pp. 1 – 31.
  • Majerus, S. & Van der Linden, M. “Long-Term Memory Effects on Verbal Short-Term memory: a Replication Study”, in British Journal of Developmental Psychology, Vol. 21(2003), No. 2, pp. 303-310.
  • Marslen-Wilson, W.  & Warren, P. “Levels of perceptual representation and process in lexical access: words, phonemes, and features”, in Psychological Review, Vol. 101 (1994), pp. 653-675
  • Pickering, M.J. (2006). „The dance of dialogue“, in The Psychologist, 19 (2006), pp. 734-737.
  • Pinker, S. “An instinct to aquire an art”, in Pinker, S. The language instinct: The new science of language and mind. London: The Penguin Press, 1994. Pp. 15-24.
  • Raffray C.N. Pickering, M.J. Branigan, H.P, (2007) „Priming the interpretation of noun–noun combinations.“, in  Journal of Memory and Language, Vol.  57 (2007), pp.  380–395. 
  • Schoonbaert, S., Hartsuiker, R.J., & Pickering, M.J. (2007). The representation of lexical and syntactic information in bilinguals: Evidence from syntactic priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 56, pp. 153-171.
  • Urtin, S., Heinlein, K.B. & Werker, J. “Bilingual beginnings as a lens for theory development: PRIMIR in focus”, in Journal of Phonetics, Vol. 39 (2011), No. 4, pp.  492-504.
  • Zimbardo, P. “Language development”. Annenberg learner videos on demand, retrieved from http://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=1530