Comparing Theories of Language Acquisition and Language Development

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The aim of this essay is to explore language acquisition and compare and contrast different theories of language acquisition and language development. Language in its most basic form is used to communicate our needs and wants. It encompasses a range of modes of delivery including signing, spoken and written words, posture, eye contact, facial expressions and gestures. So how do we learn ‘language’? Are we born with the skills for communication, or is it something that we have to learn or have taught to us? Four theories are looked at in this essay to determine how children acquire and then develop language. These theories include behaviourist, nativist, cognitivist and sociocultural. This essay will highlight some similarities and …show more content…
What is agreed on is that the acquisition of language is a complex process that is dependent on many factors, both innate and environmental (Kearns & Austin, 2007). Noam Chomsky’s innatist theory suggests children are born with the ability to learn language which is backed by evidence that states that all humans are born with a roughly equal capacity to acquire language (Dechaine, Burton & Vatikiotis-Bateson, 2012). Chomsky believed humans were born with a special brain mechanism that was pre-programmed to learn language. He referred to this as the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). The first 36 months of a child’s life is a critical period for all language development (Vukelich, Christie & Enz, 2002). Language acquisition begins with the recognition of a languages sound patterns and the capacity to successfully use language requires a child to acquire a range of tools including; phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics (Dechaine, Burton & Vatikiotis-Bateson, 2012). Chomsky believed that children would learn these complex components of language without apparently being taught. His theory implies that if we weren’t born with the innate language faculty it would be impossible, in such a short amount of time, with very limited language input, to acquire such a complex system as human language (Baker &

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