Theories Of Language Acquisition

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This essay aims to present four important theories about language acquisition and examine their impact in today's pre-school practices, taking into consideration the role of the significant others and demonstrate some strategies that enhance the developmental process.
Before these theories and their impact in teaching practices can be discussed, it is essential to define the word "language" and present the stages of language development that lead to language acquisition. Defining language is a very difficult task because there is not a universally accepted definition. However, Sapir (1921, p.8) states that: "Language is a purely human and noninstinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions, and desires by means of a system of voluntarily
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In this approach, Operant Conditioning is used that aims at maximising the frequency that a wanted reaction appears, like the correct use of language (Bigge, 1999). The fundamental principles of this procedure are; rewarding the speech which is close to that of adults and punishing the speech that makes no sense. Gradually, language is voluntarily shaped by the environment, because rewarded behaviours tend to emerge more often in contrast with the ones that were followed by punishment which progressively stop (Gleason, 1997). Skinner thought that parents use this technique, even without realising it and was confident that it could be used in schools if teachers followed a very strict learning schedule of reinforcement (Bigge, 1999). To conclude, the main points of Skinner's theory is that behaviour is deliberately formed through environment step by step and that a certain program must be applied to have the desired…show more content…
According to Chomsky's theory, any given language stimuli with the help of this inherent device can develop grammatical rules, which deep structure is universal for all languages (Paraskevopoulos, 1985). This device is developing simultaneously with the brain and needs only a small amount of stimuli in order to activate (Cole & Cole, 2002). This theory explains how infants can learn any language and so quickly, however, other theorists have major concerns about diving language and thought. Also, other linguists claimed that Chomsky's theory is unimaginative because it assumes that language is innate. Furthermore, the existence of a device is not yet proven by biologists and the minimisation of the environmental effects is highly criticised (Gleason,
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