Education Degree - Language Acquisition Theories - Comparing

Essay by Davesaddiction87College, UndergraduateB+, March 2010

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Language Acquisition Theories

Language acquisition is one of the most widely used concepts in the area of education. However it is also a very controversial area and has attracted the attention of many linguists and phycologists for generations. .Psychological and linguistic thinking have profoundly influenced one another and the outcome of language acquisition theories alike. Several theories have been proposed to examine the concept of language acquisition .They are the Behaviourist, Innatist and Interactionist Theories of language which are used in studying children's development because they provide an organizing structure for our observations of children. These three theories will be defined, examined and assessed throughout this paper.

The Behaviourist Theory focuses on observable language behaviour rather than thinking, because the traditional behaviourists believe that language is acquired through constant imitation and habit formation and that language development is a result of training not maturation. A Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, provided a powerful base on which behavioural psychologists constructed learning theories.

He started by studying the connection of why a dog salivates when presented with food. He then began to base his theory on the fact that "learning should be thought of as developing associations between stimuli and responses" (Emmit & Komesaroff, 2003). Many years later the most clearly articulated description of the behaviouristic learning theory was developed by an American psychologist, B.F. Skinner. Skinner wrote a book called 'Verbal Behaviour' in 1957. This inturn outlined a variation to the original model of learning first set out by Pavlov. Skinner set out to show that an association already established between a sensory stimulus (object or spoken word) and a particular response could be conditioned to a new stimulus and a new response. He wanted to show how words and their meanings were learned. Behavioural psychology focuses on aspects of...