The Theories Of Language Acquisition

1707 Words7 Pages
Language Developmental research is fascinated with how young children are able to acquire language. This fascination has led to the development of numerous theories of language acquisition. Two major theories of language acquisition include the behaviorist theory and the innatist theory. Both contrasting theories are influential to developmental research and inspire much research in an attempt to support or disprove each theory. Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition The behaviorist theory of language acquisition represents the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate. This approach assumes that the young child is born a blank slate and it is through interaction with the environment that the child is able to learn language (Skinner,…show more content…
This reinforcement leads the child to produce more words in order to receive the rewarding stimuli. Parents are training children to produce language while children are passive observers in the environment (Skinner, 1957). Evidence for the behaviorist approach. Empirical evidence has emerged that provides supporting evidence for the behaviorist approach to language acquisition, by showing that language can be learned through and is facilitated by behaviorist learning techniques. For instance, behaviorist methods, such as operant conditioning and other behavior modification techniques, have been shown to be useful in teaching language to those who have language disorders, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Lovaas, 1977). Similarly, when children in the laboratory were told to imitate the speech of an adult, they were able to better produce sentences that were grammatically correct than children who were not told to imitate (Whitehurst & Novak, 1973). Furthermore, it has been found that a mother’s responsiveness to her child’s language, such as by imitating or affirming the child’s vocalizations, at one point in time predicted the timing of future milestones, such that the more responsive a mother is the more quickly the next milestones will occur (Tamis-LeMonda, Bornstein, & Baumwell, 2001). Thus, it appears that language learning is
Open Document