Key theorists

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  • Key Theorists
    • Jean Berko Gleason (The Wug Test)
      • The Wug Test is an experiment created by Jean Berko Gleason in 1958.
      • It was designed as a way to investigate the acquisition of the plural and other inflectional morphemes in children.
      • The Wug Test showed that even very young children have already internalized grammar rules that enable them to produce plurals, past tenses, possessives and other forms of words that they have never heard before.
      • It was the first experimental proof that young children have extracted rules from the language around them.
      • It suggests an innate capacity to acquire language structures.
    • Katherine Nelson (1973)
      • Nelson found 4 categories that children use as a part of their language:
        • 1. Naming
        • 2. Actions/ Verbs
        • 3. Describing/ modifying things
        • 4. Personal/ Social words where the child is interacting
      • Nelson found 60% of children's early utterances were nouns or contained nouns
    • Piaget (cognitivism)
      • Piaget argues for the importance of cognitive development in the acquisition process
      • He argues that children are naturally curious and drive their own learning process, but are restricted by own cognitive development
      • Children form schemas or mental representations of the world
      • Language goes hand in hand with conceptional development
      • Children are 'little scientists' who are naturally curious about the world
      • They are restricted (and enabled) by their thinking
    • Skinner Imitation Theory (Behaviorism)
      • Children learn to speak by imitating their parents and being given positive or negative reinforcement when rewarded or punished according to the accuracy of their utterance.
      • Children learn to speak through operant conditioning
      • Skinner's research focused on experiments with rats and pigeons
    • Bruner: Social Interactionism
      • Bruner argues for the importance of social interaction with a caregiver in creating an environment in which language is learnt
      • This differs from Skinner because language learning is seen as a less formal process, and there is the belief that being in a social environment will lead to language acquisition even without formal tuition.
      • Bruner formulated the idea of the Language Acquisition Support System (LASS)
        • This is the rich environment surrounding a child
      • Bruner argued that the quality and quantity of caregiver interactions has an influence on how well children learn language


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