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By David T. Hakes

Not very a long time in the past, it used to be universal for language researchers and theorists to argue that language improvement used to be by some means designated and break free different features of improvement. It was once a interval while the "1 ittle 1 inguist" view of language improvement used to be universal, and masses dialogue used to be dedicated to advance­ psychological "linguistic universals," unlike extra largely outlined cognitive universals. It appeared to me on the time (and nonetheless does) that such perspectives mirrored extra their promulgators' lack of understanding of these points of cognitive improvement probably to supply illuminating parallels with language improvement than they did the real developmental situation. Coming from a neo-Piagetian body of reference, it appeared to me that there have been impressive parallels be­ tween the improvement of kid's language comprehension skills and the cognitive developmental alterations taking place contemporaneously, mostly through the interval Piaget characterised because the preoperational level. And, notwithstanding more challenging to determine even now, there seemed additionally to be developmentally past parallels through the sensory-motor stage.

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Chapter 3 A Study of Children's Metalinguistic )lb~ties:Me~od One hundred children, 20 each of ages 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 years, were tested. Each child received a series of five tasks over several short testing sessions. The tasks, in the order in which they were administered, were conservation, comprehension, synonymy, acceptability, and phonemic segmentation. The reason for including the comprehension task lies in the nature of the synonymy task. For this reason, the synonymy task will be described before the comprehension task.

Thus, it appears that younger children may be focusing on the "things" named or described linguistically rather than on the linguistic means used for naming or describing them. Further, it appears that this tendency may disappear (or at least diminish) during middle childhood. If so, we may be beginning to gain a glimpse of the nature of the metalinguistic developmental change occurring during this period. The change appears to involve an increasing ability to focus attention upon and evaluate the properties of the language per se.

If the child made a mistake, the experimenter again demonstrated the correct number of taps. After several trials on which the experimenter demonstrated the correct number before asking thE: chi ld to tap, there were 42 trials on which the child was asked to tap one-, two-, and three-syllable words without prior demonstration. The experimenter continued to demonstrate the correct number if the child made an error. Thus, the task was a learning task, the question being whether the child could learn that the correct number of taps was determined by the number of syllables in the word.

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