Taking Research out of the Lab: Embodied and Situated Language Development

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Language acquisition is influenced by the child, in terms of their genetic and biological make-up, but also acquired within the context of their family, social systems, schools, and community. Development is influenced by the culture, language, and social context surrounding the child. Embodied cognition is the view that thinking is grounded in perceptual, action, and emotion systems. An embodied theory of language acquisition predicts that early concepts develop from sensorimotor experience. Evidence regarding the role of the body in language acquisition can influence teaching, community programs, and families. Researchers also can learn from the experiences of the child and their communities when supporting young language learners. In Chapter 2, I describe embodied cognition for educators. I describe the shift in cognitive psychology from describing thinking as the manipulation of arbitrary symbols to the view that an integrated system houses sensory and motor systems but also language information. I provide evidence for the role of sensorimotor experience in learning. I also discuss some critical areas that need to be explained by embodied cognition, where more research is required and take-home messages for teachers. In Chapter 3, I delineate embodied from situated cognition in language acquisition. Language is embodied in that our internal cognitive mechanisms are grounded in our sensorimotor and affective systems but also situated because language is learned within a broader context. In Chapter 4, I describe a community-based research project testing a program designed to increase adult talk and conversation between caregivers and children. Community-based research allows for an exploration of language learning in the context of the families and communities in which children live. With training, caregivers can increase the quantity of speech they share with their children, and feedback could be one way to help facilitate this process. I consider how these findings could influence a broader discussion around the role of parental input in language development. Across these diverse studies, I explore language outside the traditional laboratory setting for language research. I bring knowledge of language acquisition theory and principles to teachers for direct application in their classrooms. I delineate the need for lab-based research and research in naturalistic environments and examine one such endeavour.
language acquisition, parent training, partner engaged research, community based research, embodied cognition, situated cognition
Reggin, L. D. (2024). Taking research out of the lab: embodied and situated language development (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.