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EDU10002 Understanding Language And Literacy

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EDU10002 Understanding Language And Literacy

1 Download7 Pages / 1,501 Words

Course Code: EDU10002
University: Swinburne University Of Technology

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Country: Australia

In your essay, explain how children’s language development can be understood by drawing on the theories of the early stages of language acquisition and development (nativist theory, behaviourist theory and interactionist theory).Your essay should include the following sections:1.An introduction which provides an overview 
2.In the body of the essay, explain each theory and give at least one language acquisition or development example (e.g. development milestone behaviour, function or phase) to support your explanation of each theory.
3.A conclusion in which you will sum up the key points you have made in your essay (about 10% of the total word count).

Language acquisition in children is a long-term process during which children are influenced by external environments being exposed to. They spend a fair amount of time-span at their homes before they are admitted into Montessori centers. In general, by the age of six children get to understand the basic vocabulary and grammar of their mother tongue. The acquisition of the language in children is indeed a complex process and follows a certain process which can be explained trough relevant theories & the mode of language acquisition (Golinkoff et al., 2015). The study thus explains the early stages of the language acquisition in children with the help of theories like nativist theory, interactionist theory and behaviorist theory. The purpose is being supported also with suitable examples.
This section investigates the acquisition of the language in children. Three different theories are being chosen to collect a different set of information and to appropriately understand the language acquisition in children. The section discusses each of the three theories with one relevant example to understand the language acquisition process.
Explanation of each theory and one language acquisition example:
Nativist theory:
The ‘Nativist Theory’ was introduced by Noam Chomsky who says that children are not born with super qualities. They absorb the surrounding environment and follow to learn new things. They actually carry or are born with a ‘Language Acquisition Device (LAD)’ which children use to catch things around them and construct their own syntaxes. They hold the grammatical universals with the help of a LAD. In syntaxes, they store up the different words, grammar and vocabularies (Haman, 2018). Children follow their parents & the family members to know the ways that were being used for framing the sentences. They try to imitate their parents and other family members with whom they live with or meet frequently at their homes. The constant efforts that they put on to understand what their parents and others are speaking help them to catch the few important words. They store up these words in their own syntaxes and recall these while they want to speak. Children by the age of six get stocked with vocabularies & grammars and are also aware of how to frame a sentence. This is how according to the nativist theory the language acquisition happens to be in children.
Example: Many milestones are developed when children observe their parents speaking in front of them. Children during such times use the inborn LAD in them to reconfigure everything according to their understanding of communication. They unconsciously identify the kind of language they are dealing with. Their understanding is not just confined to the language but is also able to configure the grammar in an appropriate manner. This is called ‘setting of parameters’ and is also one of the development milestones of language acquisition from nativist theory (Ghalebi & Sadighi, 2015). It is as if the child is born with a set of hypotheses which they match the surrounding information and configure the sentences. Their parents do not teach them the tenses but still, they can follow the basic rule of tense to frame the sentence.  
Interactionist theory:
Some argue that “nature” is entirely responsible for influencing the language acquisition in children. On the other hand, some others argue that “nature” helps to pick up their mother tongue. The interactionist theory says that both biological and the social ways help children to learn or acquire the language. They are born with the abilities to understand the communication between them. They also have the inborn capabilities to identify ways to configure the words, phrases, grammars and vocabularies into sentences. Moreover, it is the mixture of inborn biological and the social qualities that help in the language acquisition in the early ages (Shintani, 2015).  
Example: Lev Vygotsky is one of the most famous names in the interactionist theory. Vygotsky had developed a model of human development which is now known as the socio-cultural model. The model states or believes that cultural development in children follows a two-phase process. At the first phase, they observe their parents or families behaving or reacting to certain cases. They store up all they have observed and use their biological abilities to figure up those & implement over their lives. This is why there are evident differences between children belonging to a different community in terms of their cultural awareness and the behaviors. In a similar way, children also get to know how their parents and the families speak. They use their inborn biological capabilities to figure out the language that their parents and the families use. At the later stage, they use their inborn syntax consisting of words & vocabularies to speak or respond to their parents. Children are actually influenced to speak up which also creates opportunities for them to configure things into sentences. There are certain milestones developed during the entire language acquisition process. The list of milestones travels from one distinguished stage to another. Hence, milestones are gurgling to baby talk to largely complete and the appropriate sentences (Sawyer, 2016).
Behaviorist theory:
The behaviorist theory states that children imitate the speech pattern and sounds of their parents. Imitation, rewards and practice act as three factors which according to the behaviouristic theory encourages children to speak. When children observe their parents speaking up or talking to them they tend to configure the styles and languages being used for the communication. Children then according to the behaviouristic theory imitate their parents and their styles of speaking. They are usually praised for their attempts. The praise and affection thus become the rewards (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2017). It means that children are being rewarded for their efforts and practices. Hence, they are able to progress and learn new things. These are the ways through which language acquisition in children is attained.
Example: According to the psychologist B.F. Skinner, the acquirer receives the linguistic input from speakers. The environment where they receive the inputs can either be their homes or the other social places. Children get positive reinforcements for their correct imitations and repetitions of the received linguistic inputs (Kelly et al., 2015). Those reinforcements influence children to take more of such attempts. Moreover, it acts as the motivating factor to children and encourages them to take the additional step. The additional step is definitely the next to what they have learned and understood.
When children imitate their parents by speaking the received linguistic inputs they are rewarded by their parents and the other family members. The rewards which they receive are generally the repetition of praising and encouraging phrases. They are also being loved by their parents showing that they so excited to see this. These reinforcements may go unnoticed by their parents but these really make the difference.
However, the theory was being criticized by Chomsky who asserts that there is no empirical evidence and any known argument to support the impact of reinforcements on language acquisition (Deng & Zou, 2016). Therefore, Chomsky suggests that unless and until there is evidence on it, this will not be considered useful for the language acquisition.  
In summary, it can be concluded that different theories have a diverse take on language acquisition in children. Nativist theory suggests that children have no inborn qualities, they just learn from their surroundings. Interactionist theory says that children have both inborn biological and social qualities. They have the capabilities to respond to the linguistic inputs which they receive from their parents and the others in their surroundings. The behaviouristic theory presents a mixture of the other two. It considers children as having no inborn capability to speak; they just learn it from their surroundings.  
Cohen, L. E., & Waite-Stupiansky, S. (Eds.). (2017). Theories of Early Childhood Education: Developmental, Behaviorist, and Critical. Taylor & Francis.
Deng, F., & Zou, Q. (2016). A Study on Whether the Adults’ Second Language Acquisition Is Easy or Not—From the Perspective of Children’s Native Language Acquisition. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6(4), 776-780.
Ghalebi, R., & Sadighi, F. (2015). The Usage-based Theory of Language Acquisition: A review of Major Issues. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2(6), 190-195.
Golinkoff, R. M., Can, D. D., Soderstrom, M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2015). (Baby) talk to me: the social context of infant-directed speech and its effects on early language acquisition. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(5), 339-344.
Haman, E. (2018). English language acquisition is delayed in bilingual homes. The Journal of pediatrics, 194, 265-268.
Kelly, B. F., Forshaw, W., Nordlinger, R., & Wigglesworth, G. (2015). Linguistic diversity in first language acquisition research: Moving beyond the challenges. First Language, 35(4-5), 286-304.
Sawyer, J. (2016). In what language do you speak to yourself? A review of private speech and bilingualism. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 489-505.
Shintani, N. (2015). The incidental grammar acquisition in focus on form and focus on forms instruction for young beginner learners. TESOL Quarterly, 49(1), 115-140.

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