Dr. Shruti Sircar, Associate Professor at the English and Foreign Languages (EFL) University spoke on “Language Acquisition: Universal and language-specific trends” as part of the workshop on Cognitive Science in Education at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 8th May 2014.
Addressing several teacher trainees from SCERT, Madhya Pradesh, who are attending this workshop, Dr. Sircar said that most of our language learning process begins unconsciously. Throwing more light on this, she shared some of the experiments which showed that Newborns are Universal Listeners and are sensitive to almost every phonological distinction, whereas in an older infant the phonemic discrimination ability declines and words in the native language take over.
Dr. Sircar gave an overview of the Language Acquisition like the pre-verbal stage that takes place till below one (1) year, the first one word utterances at 1 – 1.6 years, the first multi word utterances at 1.7 – 2 years and the first complex sentences after 2 years. She gave an interesting experiment being done at the LSCP Infant Lab in the University of Maryland about High Amplitude Sucking Procedure (HASP) which shows how the infant detects the changes in auditory stimulus.
Dr. Sircar further explained the testing across lifespan in young infants, older infants and adult children. A young infant also identifies the new things by sucking, whereas an older infant identifies by seeing the things. In children and adults they identify easily the similarities and differences, she added.
The five-day workshop which is sponsored by Rajya Shiksha Kendra of the Madhya Pradesh Government will focus on the implications of Cognitive and Neural Sciences for education and development and is intended to expose the teacher educators in new developments in Cognitive Science. The workshop is being organized by the Centre for Neural & Cognitive Sciences (CNCS) of UoH.
Dr. Shruti Sircar has done her research on language and literacy development in children, with the aim of identifying sites of potential difficulty for beginning readers. She is also interested in spelling development, reading research, second language acquisition especially in the area of verb semantics, and cognitive linguistics.