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Language Development

Theories of Language Development

About the Designers
What is language?
Theories of Language Development
The Pre-Linguistic Phase
Beginnings of Intentional Communication
Guidelines for Intentional Communication
Intentional Communication: why?
Four Main Aspects of Language
Aquiring Words
Errors In Word Learning
Fun Facts

The Learning Perspective 

The Learning perspective argues that children imitate what they see and hear,and that children learn from punishment and reinforcement.(Shaffer,Wood,& Willoughby,2002).

The main theorist associated with the learning perspective is B.F. Skinner. Skinner argued that adults shape the speech of children by  reinforcing the babbling of infants that sound most like words. (Skinner,1957,as cited in Shaffer,,2002).  

  The Nativist Perspective

The nativist perspective argues that humans are biologically programmed to  gain knowledge.The main theorist associated with this perspective is Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky proposed that all humans have a language acqusition device (LAD). The LAD contains knowledge of grammatical rules common to all languages (Shaffer,,2002).The LAD also allows children to understand the rules of whatever language they  are  listening to.Chomsky also developed the concepts of transformational grammar, surface structure,and deep structure.

Transformational grammar is grammar that transforms a sentence. Surface structures are  words that are actually written. Deep structure is the underlying message or meaning of a sentence. (Matlin,2005).   

Interactionist Theory    

Interactionists argue that  language development  is both biological and social. Interactionists argue that language learning is influenced by the desire of children to communicate with others.

The Interactionists argue that "children are born with a powerful brain that matures slowly and predisposes them to acquire new understandings that they are motivated to share with others" ( Bates,1993;Tomasello,1995, as cited in shaffer,et al.,2002,p.362).

The main theorist associated with interactionist theory is Lev Vygotsky.Interactionists focus on Vygotsky's model of collaborative learning ( Shaffer,et al.,2002). Collaborative learning is the idea that conversations with older people  can help children both cognitively and linguistically ( Shaffer,,2002).