Language Acquisition of Children in Motherless Babies Homes : Current School News

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Assessment of Language Acquisition of Children in Motherless Babies Homes in Enugu State, Nigeria

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Assessment of Language Acquisition of Children in Motherless Babies Homes in Enugu State, Nigeria.


Motherless babies homes are places where children at different stages of language acquisition/development are taken care of. This research, aims at x-raying the linguistic development of these deprived children.

The study explored the linguistic development of children in motherless baby homes. Specifically, this study sought to: assess the level of language acquisition of children in the motherless baby homes.

Identify the environmental factors that aid language acquisition that may be lacking in motherless babies homes, determine the extent to which children in the motherless babies homes negotiate and attach meaning to utterances.

Find out if the attention given by the workers in the motherless babies homes and visitors are capable of aiding the children’s language acquisition.

Ascertain the extent to which inputs from organizations aid the language acquisition of the children, find out the effect of the language acquired in the motherless babies homes on the children and determine if the prevailing language environment in the motherless babies homes is capable of impairing the language acquisition of children in the motherless baby homes.


Title Page ….. i
Page ….. . ii
Certification ……. iii
Dedication Page …… iv
Acknowledgments…. v
Abstract … vii
Table of Contents viii
List of Tables ………. xii

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study  ….. 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem …. 6
1.3 Purpose of the Study… . 7 1.4
Research Questions ……. . .. 7
1.5 Significance of the Study……. 8
1.6 Hypotheses …… 9
1.7 Scope of the Study… 10
1.8 Delimitation of the Study……. 10

Chapter Two: Literature Review

2.2. Theoretical Studies ……… 12
2.2.1. Interactionist Theory ……….. 13
2 .2.2. Predetermined/ Innateness Theory … 14
2.2.3. Theory of Learning/ Social Learning Theory .15
2.2.4. Theory of Imitation ….. .16
2.2.5. Behaviourist Theory .….17
2.2.6. Maturational / Normative Theory …… 19
2.2.7. Theory of Intellectual Development .. 19
2.2.8. Information Processing Theory ……… 21
2.2.9. Componential Theory…… 22
2.2.10. Set Theory ………………23
2.3.1. Language Acquisition, Language Learning and Language Development …… 24
2.3.2. Environment and Language Development ………. 28
2.3.3. Negotiation for Meaning and Child Language Development …. . 34
2.3.4. Education and Child Language Development …. 38
2.3.5. Language Impairment and Language Development …… 41
2.3.6. Language, Thought and Culture .. … 50
2.4. Empirical Studies … 56

Chapter Three: Research Methodology

3.1. Research Design ……78
3.2. Population of Study …………… 78
3.3. Sampling Procedure and Size..… 78
3.3. Instrument of Data Collection …….. 79
3.4 Validation of Instrument …… 80
3.5. Method of Data Collection ……. 80
3.5. Method of Data Analysis ………. 80

Chapter Four: Presentation, Analysis of Data and Discussion of Findings

4.1. Presentation and Analysis of Data from Oral Interview and Participant Observation …. .. 82
4.2. Presentation and Analysis of Data from the Questionnaire …………. 95
4.3. Discussion of Findings ………. 122
4.3.1. Result – Research Questions ………….. 122
4.3.2 Result – Research Hypotheses …… .. 134

Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary ..…. 139
5.2 Conclusion ..…….. 141
5.2 Recommendations ..… 142
References ……. 144


Language is the major means of human communication and is mainly obtained through acquisition, learning and subsequent development.

A few years after birth, a normal child is capable of producing complex sentences that do not only attest to the knowledge of his language but also the level of his mental development.

Language encompasses every means of communication in which thoughts and feelings are symbolized in order to convey meaning to others (Nwachukwu, 1995) through writing, speaking, signs, facial expression and gestures.

This must have prompted Simpson (1994) to state that language is a system of speaking, writing or signing. Therefore, language was glossed as being a mode of speaking or writing common to a group of people.

Among all human and in all known languages of the world, language is either developed through the process of acquisition or learning.

Language acquisition is the term most commonly used to describe the process whereby children become speakers of their native language or languages (Agbedo, 2003; Malmkjaer, 2001).

Language acquisition according to Rice (1989) has three different components: the language to be acquired, the child and the child’s endowment.

Specifically, Clark (1991) opines that the acquisition of language forms the basis of all other forms of symbolic activities by humans.

According to Morrison (2001) when children in the first few years of life are given appropriate opportunities, they make remarkable, effortless acquisition of language. Thus language acquisition does not require only the natural endowment but also the right environment.

Language learning, on the other hand, focuses on the process by which second or foreign languages are learnt. The learning is guided in line with the curriculum of an educational establishment.

In view of that, language learning, most of the time, requires a formal setting, conscious effort by a conscious learner and a conscious mind. From the light of the foregoing, it can be seen that language acquisition seems to be the appropriate concept to refer to how the young humans learn their first language.


Acredolo, L.P. & Godwyn, S.W. (1985). Symbolic gesturing in language development. Human Development, 28, 53 – 58.

Agbedo, C.U (2003). Language and mind: An introduction to psycholinguistics. Nsukka: ACE Resources Konsult.

Agbedo, C.U (2009). Language and mind: New directions in psycholinguistics. Nsukka: ACE Resources Konsult.

Agbedo, C.U. (2008). Communication disorders in children: A case study of Mimo Usama and Sele Yengi. International Journal of Communication, 8(1), 1-31.

Aitchison, J. (1991). The articulate mammal : An introduction to psycholinguistics. London: Hutchison & Publishers Ltd

Akpuru-Aja, A. (2008). Language, culture and power, lessons for the promotion of Nigerian languages and culture: A realist analysis. Journal of Nigerian Languages and Culture, 10 (1), 1-14.

Alms, P.A & Risberg, J. (2006). Stuttering in adults: The acoustic startle response, temperamental traits, and biological factors. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 46, 233-240.

Alms, P.A. (2004). Stuttering and the basal ganglia circuits: A critical review of possible relations. Journal of Communication Disorders, 37, 325 – 369.

Anagbogu, P.N, Mba, B.M & Eme, C.A (2001). Introduction to linguistics. Nigeria: J.F.C. Limited.

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