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The Theories Of Language Acquisition

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Behaviourism, one of the earliest scientific explanations of language acquisition was greatly influenced by theorist B.F Skinner (1957). The techniques of this learning theory have long been absorbed in the education setting to promote behaviours that are desirable and to dishearten those who are not (Stanbridge, 2014). As one of the developers of behaviorism B.F. Skinner (1957) accounted for language development by means of environmental influence, particularly a child’s reaction to reward and punishment. Skinner justified that behaviours that are rewarded, would be repeated, but behaviours that are disciplined or ignored will lessen. B.F Skinner (1957) also recognised two types of reinforcement, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, and explained how these strategies can strengthen the behaviour that follows. Skinner described positive reinforcement as a behaviour being followed by the presentation of a positive stimulus, thus the behaviour then increases (Hannum, 2006). For example, when a baby says ‘Ma, ma’ for the first time, we naturally get very excited and repeat the sounds back to the child, reinforcing the behaviour which makes it more likely for the child to produce that word again. (Centre for Learning Innovation, 2006, p. 8) This is called positive reinforcement. Naturally, children seek approval from people or teachers they admire and work for things that bring them a positive atmosphere (Cherry, 2015). By smiling, praising and commending the
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