2. The role of feedback in language learning

Regard to natural language acquisition and learning motivates a psychological meaning for feedback competence, described as the knowledge of behavior results to influence or modify further performance (Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, 1989). Knowledge can be defined as information gained via experience or study, the thesis framework is thus able to embrace the psychological reference.

Knowledge of result may correspond with returning of output, the thesis is yet to examine if human individuality would not impel a revision on feedback as a return to part own input. As build of neural patterns of behavioral validity, language acquisition is held for language learning. Closed-loop competence to be affirmed for all stages in linguistic progression, a term of human feedback strategy shall be proposed.

2.1. Language within a program perspective

Linguistic studies have noted on a tendency to position speech and language within a perspective for human “programming” of behavior, own or by another organism. Wiktor Jassem presents an indication by Paul Postal (1987):

“…a language is an infinite set of sentences which are triplets of phonetic, syntactic, and semantic properties generated by a finite abstract project, or grammar, which consists of sets of partially independent elements called rules and a lexicon or dictionary. Such grammars are represented in human neural systems and provide implicit knowledge of the language they define. A grammar is thus in certain ways analogous to a computer program in that it is a formal system partially determining the behaviour of a physical system (…)”

The many theories on a capacity by language to “program” behavior would belong with a different scope of inquiry, also as declinable. Feedback to stay in the focus of the present work, two prominent approaches to language development can be quoted.

The nativist party posit that humans are born with DNA-encoded language universals. Nevertheless, Noam Chomsky has stated for his language acquisition device to depend on experience as releaser, as well as on exposure for perfection. The nativist tenets point to insufficiency of environmental variables and the naturalness of the postulated principles of grammar: generative universals can be discerned for unrelated languages (Akmajian et al., 1985).

Cognitive linguists insist on mental capabilities to precede language refinement (ibidem). Intellectual progress would be contingent on information exchange as well as on brain maturity, the cognitivist meaning for intellective advancement to embrace a capability to extract from experience and to build heuristics. The approach places language learning in context with problem-solving. Nativism or cognitivism, it is reasoned that both need feedback phenomena.

Language skill cannot work without memory. Attempts to declare a brain singular site for human memory have been failures without exception. The present argument selectively does adopt the neoconnectionist approach and memory network models. Bruce Derwing’s guideline (in Jassem, 1987) is the principium of the inquiry: his study of human learning brought him to the conclusion that “no other, special mechanisms or secret abilities are necessary for learning language than learning anything else”.

2.2. The closed-loop process of neural network forming

Biological maturation alone cannot account for linguistic progress, though specificity increase does enhance neural integrity, the nervous system to myelinate or regulate own bulk by apoptosis. Learners may never attain linguistic finesse without language favorable exposure to involve standard spoken and written resources as in libraries and the media, not only language by acquainted people. Since neural schemata are essential in language biological form (Puppel, 1992), pattern establishment is part in all living linguistic structuring. Two most recognized approaches to human management of signal, behaviorism and connectionism, differ fundamentally.

Ivan Pavlov postulated that learning was substantiated by brain reflexes. He ascribed reflex forming to temporal co-occurrence of events. Pavlov’s approach, projected onto human studies and often misjudged as an associationist venture (Szewczuk, 1984), was opposed by American connectionists, who insisted on personal recognition of result or response as a competence of intrinsic affective value. The laws of learning by Edward Lee Thorndike were those of exercise, readiness, and effect. The laws compare with the feedback model for human neural pattern forming.

Respectively, exercise would increase the frequency of neural path use. Effect affirming or denying validity, readiness would be a systemic encouragement to rehearse the connectivities to have produced agreeable consequents. Literature in psychology proceeds with augmented attention to neural “labels” for affect, owing to the role in path priority (Goleman, 1997). Feedback between brain frontal and limbic areas has been given much credit, for personal realization on the self and the environment (Vander et al., 1985).

Clark Leonard Hull (1940, in Szewczuk, 1984) defined the origin of need as a negative balance between the individual and his or her setting. A behaviorist signaling value would target a human person, either to accommodate the inner equilibrium, or to threaten it. Induced co-occurrence of events to force orienting responses would be allowed in the context as well. The role of concomitant conditions came to be stressed also by Edwin Ray Guthrie (1935, in Szewczuk, 1984).

Thorndike questioned the worth of simultaneity, insisting that an affective component was inherent to all learning. With focus to language, personal congruity is more than only likely to prevail over stimulation. For standard as well as school contexts, recognition between an impulse or mere presence is by and large individual. This would be the favored inner signaling value and not frequency or mode of signal objective incidence to encourage neural path forming, especially for educated and fluent language styles.

Neural patterning for language can be presented with a closed-loop schema, where human inner actuation would refer for affective congruity: persons may not find all goals desirable and thus learnable, failure with acceptable skill also to entwine with affective disadvantage. Signaling value would invite inner balance, since learning for skill does by principle solicit personally agreeable objectives, methods, and time spans. The affective component should not be understood for emotion alone, as human affect does not function in detachment from consciousness and perception.

Figure 2. A general, closed-loop schema for neural patterning. S — Signal; A — Inner actuation state to embrace affective congruity; S1 — Memory reflection on signal; S2 — Processed signal inner representation; R1 — Response; R2 — Result.

Figure 2. Feedback schema for human learning

Figure 2 is to connote actual connectivity between neurons, as concepts on purely “functional” or “mathematical” significs are of no meaning to biological systems (Szewczuk, 1984). The generalization is not to commend an oversimplified view of human neural links. Patterns and schemata do not work in isolation, whereas networks are intricate as well as continually active, which precludes the intermediate layers from monitoring. Figure 2 constituent nodes are to symbolize multi-layered structures able to act as in Figure 3. Living neural networks might not be symmetrical; priority paths or schemata may connect entire networks.

The model of Figure 2 includes a memory reflection on signal, whereas it might be impossible to postulate memory precedents for novel phenomena. Feedback with language competence yet would be part in all standard consciousness, where individual lexicons may afford to classify and verbally define new percepts in standard words. Linguistic memory will allow new perspectives for familiar phenomena as well.

Affinity and chemical specificity may account for encoding processes only in a proportion. It would be hypertonic backlash (Szewczuk, 1984), or neuron differential tonicity, to mediate human memory path validation. The tonicity would ensue from signal synergisms within existent structures, the process to require cellular and intercellular feedback, by a person-defined neural makeup. Figure 4 presents a generalization for hypertonic backlash as memory pattern reinforcer.

Figure 4. Natural backlash memory reinforcement. S — Signal, R — Response within the neural network, B — Backlash reinforcement (compare Szewczuk, 1984).

Figure 4. Backlash reinforcement__a generalized picture

In attaining neural synergism, personal congruity would be of foremost importance, natural neural chemistry and voltage to operate on minim quantities: even minor discord denies validity to stimulus-response approaches for language. Standard neural function can bring distinctly individual effects.

2.3. Feedback-mediated network functioning

Biological networks are standard structures, humans are yet individual and unique in integrating own patterns for behavior. Personally efficient convergence can be proposed for the primary formative in encoding, inactive information to be subject to forgetting (Szewczuk, 1984). Network layering has been classed in two types, the symbolic and the sub-symbolic connectivities. The sub-symbolic layers would merge for praxic and motor adeptness, the symbolic networks to build declarative scopes for intellectual routines and creativity (Puppel, 1992).

Pattern constant practice is not necessary in humans, since networks would function in stochastic or deterministic manners. The random mode may be observed intrapersonally, with volitional fixation of gaze and motor as well as cognitive inactivity. As brain natural exercise on existent linkage, the mode may add to network readiness. Highly deterministic network behavior can be recognized in skilled and proficient language uses, taken the cerebral specialization in human thought, memories, imagery, and linguistic performance neural command.

In networked processing, concern with response as different from signal may arise, whereas “returning of signal” or “signal reiteration” has defined feedback as a process. The cerebellum is known to loop back with the neocortex, for ongoing language sequences. A cerebellar signal may specifically differ from that to have reached the cerebellum with the sequence onset; it is yet the communication between the cerebellum and the neocortex to generate the feedback function. Since command change or reset may require different signals, signal variance does not disqualify the cerebellar role as a feedback capacity.

By the criterion, inner feedback would be a closed-loop process between neural structures to send and receive signal in return. Since cerebellar communication itself remains outside of consciousness, the question is, if human feedback reliance might also be instinctive.

2.4. Circular reactions in child development

In psychology and physical education, three natural continua for human ontogenetic progression have been most acknowledged, the motor, the affective, and the cognitive activities. The three types of human pursuit have been found in interaction and rapport as to allow the term “psychomotor”, with regard to human locomotion, as well as language behavior (Payne and Isaacs, 1987).

The term is not to imply a top-down influence strictly. Motor exercise has proved beneficial to cognitive ableness, the partial intellectual decline theory to associate aspects of advanced adulthood cognitive slowdown with motor regression (ibidem). For speech and language, the term “psychomotor” is to emphasize the necessary priority of the human person, in speaking and writing. The terms of language development rate and order also require comment, as in Crystal, Fletcher, and Garman (1976). Specifically, language acquisition order might show statistic regularities, humans potentially to vary far more in language maturation pace, the order and rate becoming distinct values.

The present projet for language refinement builds on the notion of circular reactions by Jean Piaget. Within a standard circular reaction, a person would introduce changes into a setting, watch the course of alterations effected, and internalize the cognitively pertinent parameters. Jean Piaget noted on circular reactions as infant instinctive behavior. Since this is the human person to make as well as cerebrate on own variables, circular reactions can be considered closed-loop behaviors, the human person to be the actual own focus.

Their natural onset to belong with the sensorimotor stage of human life, the reactions are innate and biologically motivated. Jean Piaget (1992) described a sensorimotor stage infant as “thinking by bodily movement”. Up to one, or one and a half months of age, the child would be absorbed with practice of own kinesthetic range. Until the fourth month, the child would repeat own earliest motor behaviors and watch their course, which has been classed as primary circular reactions.

Secondary circular reactions are primary patterns modified for new circumstances. The child learns to combine own initial behaviors, and tries to integrate sensory awareness and motor command in prolonged workout. Secondary schemata help improve movement coordination.

Around twelve months of age, the interplay of sensory, motor, and cognitive powers progresses into tertiary reactions. Trial and error to have helped develop prediction beyond immediate manipulation of objects, the child shows increased interest in the environment. In object handling, attempts to act through others inspire socializing. Objective localization gradually to replace egocentric spatial awareness, coincidence-anticipation timing grows into directional cognizance. The skill later acts in such academic tasks as reading (Payne and Isaacs, 1987).

The circular rehearsal would require a return to part own working input. Since human individual learning altogether would mean making variables within own neural structures, a view to inner executive controls can help discern on feedback as potentially a return to input rather than output.

2.5. Robbie Case’s executive controls theory

Robbie Case, a psychologist, attempted to incorporate Jean Piaget’s approach in an information processing framework. He postulated for new executive controls to account for increased intellectual means in cognitively refining children. The concept of new executive controls was to denote “the current ways of representing the world coupled with the child’s current strategies with specific kinds of problems” (Wortman et al., 1988).

The researcher evaluated children’s short-term memory and intellective strengths by two tasks he assumed of the same logical insight, those to be quantity evaluation by number and volume. He found competence in estimating number accompanied by inability to define volume a regular pattern, among six-year-olds. He premised an executive controls discrepancy he named a horizontal décalage (ibidem).

Though the short-term capacity is speculated not to change past maturation (Wortman et al., 1988), intellective skill does augment in normally progressing humans. The matter of executive controls can be seen as that of neural network efficiency, further to correspond with the notion of working memory. Human working memory has been stipulated for either the actual short-term capability, or an inventory to mediate between the short-term and the long-term. The performance has been exposited as potentially labile (Kurcz, 1992).

Intellectual progress is impossible without linguistic advancement. All languages discern between number and mass, countability to precede a grasp of the grammatical article, in acquisition of French as well as English. Grammatical gender is another connotation, for French and other languages that assign gender. Therefore, the “horizontal décalage” can be disputed as suggesting a lag where there would not be delay: mastery of grammatical determinateness is not expected of the six-year-old.

In linking mass or volume and determinateness, the child would need a neural linkage broader than that for telling quantity alone. The “décalage” would narrate on a normal and standard developmental stage, in which inner network coherence is only yet not sufficient. New controls as ways of representing the world and strategies with problems would imply personality factors, whereas learning may, but does not have to alter personal attitudes.

A feedback strategy rather than new controls can be proposed, for human promotion of own linguistic and intellective skill. A successful strategy would involve a repertoire of flexible behaviors to advance personal proficiency for an objective. Inner structures integration would require a return to part own inputs.

2.6. Circular and feedback exercise in language development

Capability for language use is a goal to all humans. Similarities in language acquisition by different persons will result from language structures, and natural functioning of human brains. In a projet to include feedback-mediated processes of neural networking, initial stages of language learning can be compared with circular reactions.

Most children show extensive aptness in imitating speech sounds, making linguistic analogies, and reasoning inductively. Language development begins with instinctive vocalizing or cooing. The vocal activity would correspond with sensorimotor coaptation. Children usually are imitated by more grown humans, the earliest “proto-conversations” to help perceive language as feedback interaction, already in the first year of life.

The one-word stage would compare with primary circular reactions: the child repeats single words or sound clusters to act as syllables or words, the worth of response to be not only in interaction or need fulfillment, but also vocal pattern validity. Rich utterance interpretation and paraphrasing may embolden progress into the “gimme” or “allgone” units of meaning as by Crystal (1976). The verbalizations merge one-word patterns for language behavior, and a parallel between them and secondary circular reactions can be posited.

A strategy may occur between ages two or three. Asking Why-questions, when the answer is known, just the ways to ask questions not fully mastered, may exemplify a developing strategy. The language standard always to remain beyond arbitrary manipulation, the repetitiveness may reflect on success with language tertiary reactions, the often “telegraphic” styles to have gained grammar via recurrent use and restructuring. Humans may vary remarkably in strategies, for intonation, syntax, vocabulary, as well as interlocutor choices (ibidem).

Environmental closed-loop linguistic activity as in Figure 1 would begin to take shape as early as with language secondary circular reactions. Already in young learners, dependence on environment would later diminish, individual strategies to decide if to continue with a distorted utterance or even speak at all, at the scope of a single syllable or even speech sound. It is usually the closed-loop manner of egocentric speech to assist the progress towards linguistic and intellectual sovereignty.

2.7. The closed-loop behavior of egocentric language

Egocentric speech occurs spontaneously, in children two to seven years old. Children rehearse locution with regard to own behavior, being themselves the intended perceivers of the spoken exercise. Egocentric talk strengthens procedural thinking. Playing or resolving on a task, the child may comment on concurrent as well as anticipated events, verbalization to expedite activity planning and modeling (Jurkowski, 1986).

In spoken form, self-oriented practice helps shape phono-articulatory patterns. Written egocentric exercise would follow, to facilitate the neuro-motor consecution for handwriting. However, language sequencing never is the ultimate goal of maturational activity: spoken or written, language practice encourages integration of memory declarative and procedural paths.

Intrapersonal communication may continue throughout lifespan. In note making, the author of the written message is the intended reader, specific or cursory character to make the message potentially unintelligible to other people (Pazukhin, 1996/97). The lifespan prospect allows to posit a generally feedback pattern in human learning and skill.

2.8. The generally feedback pattern in human learning and skill

Cognitive variables formation and exercise remains a valid behavior throughout lifespan. Everyday living necessitates management of novel circumstances and information of no memory precedent. Growth, exception, and change of synaptic significance are part every human life (Vander et al., 1985).

Learning involves feedback-mediated neural link expansion, as well as path delimitating. Neural connectivity extends for initial stages of cognitive processes, further phases to bring connectedness reducing within neural economy (Kurcz, 1992). Biological concision pertains with neural tissue, assisting considerable preservation of knowledge without much spatial requirement on the brain.

In language, even well established neural schemata may recede without systemic actuation, as in language users to lose the capacity in desuetude. On the other hand, style modeling remains possible in adults, monolingual as well as multilingual. Egocentric practice to have invited a feedback strategy, human learning may progress into thought exercise of no direct outward form, advance in neural connectedness to render note making or verbal rehearsal expendable.

Ascent in human inner hierarchy affords a relaxed time frame as well. Experiments with conditioned learning have showed a major tolerance for reinforcement delay, in complex cognitive processes (Kurcz, 1992). The time envelope to be very strict for single neurons, the temporal allowance is much broader for the brain entire. However, conditioning would impose program perspectives on intellection, whereas a feedback approach might encourage long-term learning without imposing immediacy either, via conscious use of variables.