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Nativist Theory Of Language Acquisition

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The questionable and ambiguous nature surrounding the notion that children play an active role in acquiring language has been debated by many theorists of different perspectives. These three perspectives include the learning view, the nativist view and the interactionist view. In this essay I will discuss each perspective with reference to psychological theories and research that relates to each view. The learning perspective of language acquisition suggests that children acquire language through imitation and reinforcement (Skinner, 1957). The ideology behind this view claims that children develop language by repeating utterances that have been praised by their parent, therefore gaining a larger vocabulary and understanding of phrases over…show more content…
Nativism, unlike the learning perspective, relates to biological factors of development rather than environmental ones. The theory of language development put forward by nativists is that humans as a species are biologically programmed with the ability to acquire language. Noam Chomsky argued that the acuiration of language, no matter how simple or elaborate, is too complex to be taught by environmental factors such as parents as previously proposed by Skinner. Chomsky believed that all children are born with a language acquisition device (LAD). He believes that all languages contain a universal grammar. This innate system equips all children with a knowledge of this universal grammar. This predisposed knowledge allows them to acquire vocabulary and construct utterances of the language that they are hearing into sentences, so they hold the ability to understand the meaning of the language that they are hearing. From a nativist perspective, language acquisition is a natural human development and is automatic to all humans if they are provided and surrounded with sufficient linguistic information for them to…show more content…
This is a theory that suggests humans acquire language substantially easier during a critical period of biological development, which is from infancy to puberty. (Hoff,2005). One case study carried out focused on a girl named Genie. Genie was locked in isolation in her home and was not discovered by authorities until she was at the age of 14. Throughout her life of confinement, Genie was not exposed to a substantial amount of language. She was also beaten by her abusive father if she attempted to make a noise (Curtiss, 1977). Genie underwent extensive training and tutoring to be taught language. While Genie’s vocabulary expanded greatly, and she adopted the ability to form fluid and plausible sentences, she did not manage to master the comprehension of syntax and the grammatical rules of language. Children however naturally grasp the context of syntax without formal teachings of it. This study therefore supports the argument that children acquire language easier during the initial stages of their life. This suggestion works in accordance to the evidence that suggests that the brain is predisposed to have certain areas specifically designed for language processing and development. For example, Gazzaniga (1986) stated that language processing occurs in the left hemisphere of the
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