compare and contrast two theories of language development
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Compare and contrast two theories of language development "Language is the main way in which human beings communicate." (Beaver, M et Al. 2001. p.139). It is used in different ways to socialise and express a persons needs. There are four main theories of language development but I will explore those of Noam Chomsky and B F Skinner. In the 1960's Chomsky explored the idea that "language development is innate and genetically predetermined." (Bruce, T and Meggitt, C. 2005. p.113). He believed that children are born with the necessary physical and intellectual abilities to acquire language, and therefore are able to invent new words and sentences that they have not previously heard. He suggests children learn to talk through their Language Acquisition Device (LAD). He suggests this structure consists of speech-producing mechanisms, the ability to understand, and parts of the brain.
(Tassoni, P. 2006. p.423). Skinner's approach is a behaviourist approach- believing that children learn from other children and adults' behaviour. These two theories are contrasting as one suggests that language development is through nature, and the other through nurture. In short it is either developed through what we get at birth, or how we are brought up. It is suggested that a child learns language through aspects, nature and nurture, as "there is some genetic sensitivity to language, but that children's experiences after birth are very important in their development of language." (Beaver, M et Al. 2001. p.149). Chomsky's theory is commonly acknowledged as it is comprehensive and explains why all babies' language development follows a pattern, unlike Skinner's theory. If Skinner's nurture approach is accurate then each child's language development should vary according to the amount of reinforcement and praise they are given.
Also when a child is struggling to read a word, they are encouraged to sound the letters out to help them say the whole word. As this is something the children are familiar with and is reinforced often, most will sound the letters out themselves to try and work out what the word says. They have learnt to do this through reinforcement, and through praise from being told when they are doing well. Parents or carers can reinforce and encourage language through the acknowledgment of spoken praise and eye contact. This helps children gain confidence in what they are saying and children who are actively encouraged to speak will acquire more words and sounds naturally. When I did a speaking and listening activity with some reception children they showed that at the end of the activity they had recalled some of the basic information that they had told me and were able to repeat this to the class teacher. Through repetition and reinforcement they had been able to remember and recall information when asked.
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This essay makes an attempt to answer the question and to some extent succeeds. It is somewhat brief in depth however so the opportunity to demonstrate a good academic understanding of the issues is reduced to little over one page. There is room for more AO2 especially developing the points made by the writer and comparing as well as contrasting the theories.
Marked by teacher Stephanie Porras 26/03/2013
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