RED3313 Guiding Questions

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RED3313 Guiding Questions

Guide Questions for BBC-Horizon’s “Why We Talk” with Reflection (30 points)

Link to video:

Guidelines: The first part of this assignment is to answer all the questions from part 1-6 on the 1 hour video(link is above).

The ones I highlighted in red are the ones that I did not answer yet. You may also look at the ones I answered as I did them fast and you might one to review them whether it is the right answer or not.

The second part of this assignment is to write a reflection. You can either individually reflect on the different questions or answer in an essay format. This part is an important part of the assignment as it summarizes the learning from the video. If you happen to use a direct quote from the video please cite it in APA style. This part does need evidence based sources. Here is the link of a another video we discussed in class:

That you should be using in the reflection part. This part should not only be based on personal reflection it should be based on sources. Remember to cite anything you decide to include. (APA)

  • Guide Questions (completed; please answer each question directly on the blank or space provide, for longer replies, please develop your responses right under each question):

The purpose of these questions is to assist students in identifying important information from the “Why We Talk” video that helps explain how oral language developed, how we came to speak, and why oral language it is an important pillar to literacy development.

Video Parts I-II

  1. According to the Speech Home Project, directed Dr. Deb Roy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), children learn individual words by interactions that occur with the parents. Describe an example of such interactions?


  • This happens in the video when the child says the word ‘’blue ball’’ twice and then his dad responds, ‘’yeah, blue ball’’. The repetition made the child understand that he was right. The repetition acts as reinforcement for the child.
  1. A central question in the understanding of speech and language is…?
  • Is it something we are born with or something that we learn?
  1. What is the difference between speech and language?
  • Speech: physical motor ability to talk (includes: articulation)
  • Language: the symbols (spoken or written) that we use to transmit a message
  1. What is the first stage of speech acquisition?
  • Babbling
  1. Do children learn to form words through approximations only? Explain your answer.
  • No, children can also learn to talk through a blossoming of a speech form.
  • No, children also learn to form words when their parents repeats the word. In this context, his mom and dad are repeating the word water after he tries. By trying and hearing the right way to pronounce the word the child moves from ‘’wader’’ to ‘’water’’.
  1. When it comes to speech and language, what differentiates humans from other mammals?
  • Humans can talk by using words and expressing different thoughts while animals use different sounds to communicate.
  1. According to Professor Cathy Price from University College London, twenty years ago scientists assumed that language functions were associated with which hemisphere of the brain? Explain further.
  • The only thing scientist knew with the help of brain scans was that the left hemisphere was associated with language (front part used for speaking and back part used to understand speech).
  1. As scanning technology improves, scientists like Prof Cathy Price are able to better pin-point which areas of the brain are involved in speech and language. As a result of her studies with her patient, Eric, it can be confirmed that to speak, humans use functions such as memory, senses, and precise motor control of the mouth. Discuss further.
  1. Professor Tecumseh Fitch from University of Vienna researched the biology of speech. He found that even though animals’ larynx were located high in the throat, they still had the ability to move it down low enough to produce sound just like humans do. What is the significance of this finding?


  • This finding proved that language and speech have nothing to do with the vocal anatomy because if this was the case then all mammals would be able to talk. The difference is rather in the structure of the brain.
  1. Understanding speech is attributed to which part of the brain?
  • Back part of the brain

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Video Parts III-IV

  1. Professor William Fifer from Columbia University Medical Center has been working with newborns to identify the roots of language reception. What are the findings or results from his studies?


  • The baby can respond to his mother’s voice in a way that is different from the other voices because a newborn is exposed to that voice in the womb. The newborn will remember the cadence and rhythm of the voice.
  1. Professor Fifer’s work seems to support the idea that infants and very young children have an ability to acquire language early on and that this “window of opportunity” is not available to us as we get older. Explain further.
  1. Chris is a person with autism. While he is dependent on others for many daily functions, he is able to learn languages quickly and currently speaks more than twenty languages. What is the significance of Chris’ condition to the understanding of language acquisition and development?
  1. Professor Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), posits that the basis of our language ability is innate because we can understand sentence structure, meaning, and sounds naturally. Explain his theory.
  1. In 1991, scientists came across a feral child in the Ukraine by the name of “Roxana”. They found that she was raised by dogs; she would bark and walk on all four limbs and behaved much like a dog. Initially, the scientific community thought that she was living proof of the innate ability of language. What was significant about her discovery?
  1. Dr. Ofer Tchernichovski, City College of New York, conducted an experiment with zebra finches in order to see if song would emerge innately in the birds. Part of his experiment included isolating the male chicks from their fathers in sound proof boxes to see if they were capable of creating song without ever hearing it. What was the result of this experiment?
  • They were only capable of sounding a croak. May add to this
  1. With each successive generation, the finches in Dr. Tchernichovski’s eventually learned to sing exactly like their original song format. What idea or theory does this support?
  1. Young children learn new languages with greater ease than older people. This may be explained by the brain’s ability to respond to sounds and speech at birth. Discuss further.

Video Parts V-VI

  1. Dr. Faraneh Vargha-Khadem, University College London, studied a family who had a speech impediment. This family was not able to clearly articulate words even though they were normal functioning and thinking people. What did her study find?
  1. In Professor Simon Kirby’s (University of Edinburgh) study, he found that his experimental-make-belief language evolved with each successive generation that used it. How does this experiment help explain why languages differ around the world?
  1. The creation of languages involves the ability to combine sounds to create new meanings. This helps explain how one single sound can change the meaning of a word. For example, /m-a-t/ to /b-a-t/. Explain further.


  • Think about what you just learned about this topic. Develop a reflection that addresses these questions:
    1. What is oral language?
    2. What is the connection between oral language and print?
    3. How are a child’s oral language skills related to literacy development?
    4. How is knowing this specific information (the connection between oral language and print and a child’s oral language skills) helpful to me as a teacher?
    5. How is this information helpful when thinking about planning and instruction for ESL populations? For students populations with special needs specific to language/reading?

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