Language Acquisition Theories


Language Acquisition Theories

Noam Chomsky - 1965

  • Nativist theory 
  • Chomsky believed that: 
    > The ability to learn to speak is innate.
    > We have an inbuilt capacity ("blueprint") to acquire language
    > Children everywhere seem to acquire language at a similar pace and rate of development
    > Children use more language than they need and sometimes resist correction
    > All human languages share many similarities: "universal grammar/liguistic universals" 
  • Created LAD (Language Acquisition Device): the belief that the human brain has an inbuilt capacity to acquire language.

Lenneberg - 1967

  • Nativist theory
  • Critical Period Hypothesis: without linguistic interaction before the ages 5-6, language development is severley limited.

B.F.Skinner - 1957

  • Behaviourist theory
  • He believed that language is acquired through imitation, repetition, social interaction as well as positive and negative reinforcement.
  • Positive reinforcement: praising e.g. well done
      rewards e.g. giving the child a biscuit or a hug
  • Negative reinforcement: punishment
       denying positive comments
       school: telling


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