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Nativism
· Chomsky- there is something innate about child language acquisition.
There is `an innate set of linguistic principles shared by all humans'
(universal grammar) which underpins all languages. Children have a
device in their brains which allows them to subconsciously work out the
rules of their own languages as they hear them- The Language
Acquisition Device (LAD).
· Chomsky's ideas have been criticised by some scholars as
neurologists have yet to discover where the LAD is in the brain but his
ideas still attract much support. Nativism answers a number of
questions about child language acquisition for example what Chomsky
refers to as the productivity or creativity of language at an early stage.
Relatively quickly children not only utter basic sentences (which have
the important words in order) but construct sentences which they have
never heard before. This is the relatively inadequate amount of
linguistic experience, comprising the limited number of words & often
fragmented syntax of early conversation to which children are exposed
before they begin to speak & understand language.…read more

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The wug test
· Experiment by Berko which supports nativism. Experiment
presented preschool children & reception children with a
drawing of an imaginary creature & captioned it `THIS IS A
WUG'. Most of the pre-schoolers & nearly all the school aged
children confidently made the word wug into a plural by adding
`s' even though it was a made up word. This supported
Chomsky as children automatically extracted a grammatical
rule & applied it for themselves.…read more

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Nativism
· Where rules of language are illogical (such as irregular
spellings & verb inflections & not where to add an `s' to the end
of words) children often misapply them when they are learning
to speak, read or write. This is overgeneralisation. (where a
perceived rule is applied generally even where it should not be)
& results in virtuous errors (logical mistakes). Examples of
virtuous errors are to pluralise by adding s where it is not
necessary `sheeps' or adding the suffix `ed' unnecessarily `I
goed'…read more

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Behaviourism
Skinner- language is a behaviour that can be taught rather than an
instinct. Children learn language through copying the adults around
them rather than an innate grammar. Language can be taught or
conditioned by regular reinforcements.
Positive reinforcement- proposes that if a child is praised or rewarded
they are more likely to repeat good behaviour so they gain in
confidence
Negative reinforcements- the withdrawal of something unpleasant
such as telling a child to get off the `naughty step'.
A criticism of behaviourism is that children are often very resistant to
corrections of grammar by carers & are more likely to ignore it or
misunderstand it.
However, most children do seem to be taught pragmatics in language
such as saying please & thank you & the concept of sarcasm.
Although children begin to acquire interactional conventions such as
turn taking & greetings in their 1st year, the extent to which this is
instinctive or imitated is unclear.…read more

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Cognitivism
· A complex set of theories about the ways children learn.
Piaget- genetic epistemologist. Children need physical
experience of objects (assimilation) before they can be
expected to modify their own mental processes in order to
meet the demands of their environment (for example attaching
labels to objects). Piaget termed this accommodation.
Language comes after thought.
· Egocentrism is the term used for the self-orientation of young
children. Before the age of 3 children cannot be expected to
play co-operatively though they may engage in parallel play
where they play alongside each other.…read more

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