THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

A. Behaviorism Theory

It is stated by John Locke that the children are as same as the white table/white paper. The children must be taught language. The children need other people to learn language. This theory says that children will get language from their environment. They will imitate to their parents, especially their mother, because usually the mother is the closer person to her children than the others. Mainly, the language acquisition needs drill to develop language. Other behaviorist is Leonard Bloomfield, who has same statement of language acquisition as John Locke stated. He is Locke’s student, and has followers called Bloomfieldians. On the other hand, Skinner, the other behaviorist defined language as the observed and produced speech that occurs in the interaction of speaker and listener.Thinking is the internal process of language. Both language and thought are initiated through interactions in the environment.

  • Example: parent and child
  • Adults provide a language model that children learn through imitation.

B. Nativism Theory

It is stated by Noam Chomsky that the children must not be taught language because they have had Language Acquisition Device (LAD) and it just has by human. They use it to develop competence and performance by themselves without behavior.

Chomsky’s theory of the LAD (Language Acquisition Device) states that every human is born with innate principles of language. Children learn language spontaneously and speak creatively. The “poverty of the stimulus theory” states that what children hear is incomplete and often ungrammatical, and cannot account for the creativity of their utterances. The nativist theory deals with the biological belief that language is an innate feature of the infant.  Researcher Noam Chomsky is a firm advocate for this theory.  He came up with the idea of a language organ, which is known as the Language Acquisition Device (LAD).

Evidence for an innate human capacity to acquire language skills comes from the following observations:

  1. The stages of language development occur at about the same ages in most children, even though different children experience very different environments.
  2. Children’s language development follows a similar pattern across cultures.
  3. Children generally acquire language skills quickly and effortlessly.
  4. Deaf children who have not been exposed to a language may make up their own language.

C. Convergence Theory

It is stated by William Stern that actually, the children have their own LAD to different them to the animals, but to make their LAD can grow well, they must be taught language by other people or by the environment. It combine the first and the second theory. The experiment use apes and teach them to speak, but it get no result. It is evidence that LAD have had by human only.

How the children get language:

1. By motivation

The children will imitate their parents or their environment, especially their mother, because normally the mothers are the closest people to their children. The children will imitate to their mothers’ behaviors. In this case, the mothers are as the models for their children. The mother’s language will be imitated by their children. So, it can be said that the children language are as the imitation of their mother’s language.

2. By comprehension

The children will comprehend their first language, for example:

  1. Alias go market àAlisa goes to the market.
  2. Sonia eat banana yesterday à Sonia ate banana yesterday.

3. By production

The children can produce their language well. Example:

  1. Tom eats fried rice every morning.
  2. I went to Japan last month.

Sources:

http://language11.tripod.com/id9.html

Nativist Language Development | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_6113587_nativist-language-development.html#ixzz1dGhLSdrT

http://www2.vobs.at/ludescher/Ludescher/LAcquisition/Nativist/nativist%20theory.htm

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