Language Acquisition Theories

Tom Eustice
Mind Map by Tom Eustice, updated more than 1 year ago
Tom Eustice
Created by Tom Eustice over 5 years ago


Mind Map on Language Acquisition Theories, created by Tom Eustice on 01/29/2016.

Resource summary

Language Acquisition Theories
  1. B.F. Skinner (1957)
    1. Thinks animals are able to learn things by imitation and reinforcement. Therefore, humans learn language by these methods too.
      1. Imitation = repeating what adults say
        1. Reinforcement = being rewarded for correct language use and not rewarded/corrected for incorrect use
        2. Obviously this theory is unlikely to be the only way children learn language, and many objections exist.
          1. Developmental milestones - children learn language at the same rate, no matter race, sex, culture, and even if they're spoken to less than another child
            1. Logical mistakes - if this theory was true, why would children create words they've never even heard?!
              1. Exceptions - Lenneberg (1962) conducted research to show that even people that couldn't imitate can still write and use language. Likewise, deaf people can often speak relatively well and also use language
                1. Critical period - feral children cannot imitate if after the critical period. If this theory was true, why can't they learn language?
                  1. Caretaker reinforcement - parents do not reinforce the child every single time they get something wrong or praise them every time they get it right so how could the child be sure?
                    1. Resistance to correction - if children are susceptible to changing their language through parent reinforcement, why do some never change their language after millions of corrections?
                      1. Functions of language - Skinner's theory suggests language is only used to get what the child wants or attention
                        1. David Crystal, however, argues that language has a phonological use. It's used just because it's fun and the love of the sound of it!
                    2. Katherine Nelson (1973) - One Word Stage
                      1. Also disagrees with Skinner's theory and argues that children who have generally accepting parents will have a faster language development than those who are constantly corrected.
                      2. Uses of Language
                        1. Instrumental = language used to identify biological needs (e.g. water)
                          1. Regulatory = language used to control others (e.g. shut the door)
                            1. interactional = language with no actual meaning, mainly to form friendships (e.g. you alright)
                              1. Personal = emotional language which relates to pain, fear, stress and emotions (e.g. OUCH)
                                1. Heuristic = language seeking information (e.g. why do we exist?)
                                  1. Imaginative = the language of creative writing, poetry and roleplaying. (e.g, I'll be the doctor and you be the patient)
                                    1. Representational = langage that communicates information (e.g. the sky is blue)
                                      1. Performative = language that attempts to control reality (e.g. curses, charms, prayers, magic)
                                      2. How do we talk to children?
                                        1. We talk to children in different ways than we talk to adults in order to help them understand and learn language.
                                          1. Phonology = speak slowly with longer pauses, more exaggeration and more emphasis between statements, commands and questions
                                            1. Semantics = limited vocabulary, simplifies vocabulary with modified words (e.g. doggie)
                                              1. Grammar = use fewer verbs in fewer tenses. Philips' research, 1973, says we use a sentence time of 3.7 seconds on average with children, but 8.4 with adults. More incomplete and simply sentences combined with open tag questions
                                                1. Pragmatics = more physical gestures, fewer utterances per turn, supportive language and questions to ensure the adult has correctly understood the child.
                                              2. Chomsky's Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
                                                1. The belief that we all have an internalised system of rules that relate sound and meaning in a particular way and allow us to communicate.
                                                2. Jean Pagiet's Intellectual Development Theory
                                                  1. The theory that in the first 18 months of language learning, children see themselves at the centre of the universe and think and speak about everything in relation to themselves. They learn language as they begin to identify that other things exist except themselves and they then recognise these other things have words.
                                                  2. Ruth Weir (1972)
                                                    1. Conducted research on her son and found that his pre-sleep dialogues showed hum going though linguistic drills in order to try and learn language.
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