Theories Of Language Acquisition In Children

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Behaviorists believe that language acquisition in children occurs through three methods simultaneously; imitation, operant conditioning and classical conditioning. All three of these methods rely on language being acquired as a way of gaining approval from adults due to the way that they communicate. In imitation, the simplest method, the adult or fellow child will say a word or phrase and the child will be asked to repeat what was said. If they do this, the adult will reward them with a positive response, which will reinforce the behavior and teach the child to say that word or phrase. This is used frequently during early language acquisition, where the child is learning what sounds will go together to make words. Another method by which children …show more content…
It has also been theorized that imitation can be helpful in learning language. Tests have been conducted where an adult model with a very specific grammatical structures will speak to a child, however, there has not been enough conductive evidence to prove that children will always learn language as their model has taught it to them. Another case in support of the behaviorist view is that children with parents that are more responsive to their children’s speech will have more rapid language growth. It has been shown that the more a parent responds to their child’s babbling, the more they will be encouraged to create phonemes of their language. If more response is shown to child speech, their language will grow more rapidly, and their range of speech will also …show more content…
For example, increasing adults’ use of known grammatical structures is quite different than teaching children new grammatical rules. Behaviorists test their assumptions in experiments on children in their natural home environment. If a learning factor is effective in the lab but not in the child’s home environment then the factor cannot explain language acquisition. Researchers have argued that children are not carefully and patiently tutored in the home regardless of the effectiveness of the techniques used in the lab. Studies have found that parents do not reward or praise their children for producing grammatically correct utterances, nor do they punish them for producing ungrammatical statements. Parents were found to praise in instances in which the statement was true regardless if the statement was grammatically correct. There is also data that questions the directionality of imitation in child language meaning that maternal imitation of a child’s vocalizations is just as common as children imitating adults. This complicates the classical accounts of behavioral shaping. Also, the assumption that language is “just another behavior” is unlikely because there is too much data that supports that humans are uniquely constructed to detect language information and process it differently from other information. Infants display many speech perception skills very early in

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