Mod 7 Test TODAY & Mod 8 OPEN!
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INFORM: Module 7 Testing Starts MONDAY, December 15th!
Due Dates Dec - Jan
INSTRUCT: Module 8 Thinking, Language, Intelligence
Language Acquisition: Noam Chomsky
There are multiple theories on how children acquire language, which you are required to know for this module and the AP Exam.
Noam Chomsky believed that learning language was so quick that it must be inborn. Chomsky felt that nature, our DNA, must be the primary factor in why children pick up language so quickly. This is why he developed his inborn universal grammar. He believed we had a LAD (learning acquisition device) in our brain. Due to the LAD, our brain is hard wired to pick up language and grammar.
- Pieces of Evidence Proving the Theory: Universally across all cultures, humans acquire language around the same age. Language development follows a similar pattern across cultures. Children do seem to acquire language easily and with little to no effort suggesting it is nature/DNA related. Cases of wild children (Genie) and deaf children have developed their own language.
- Critics of Chomsky: It overemphasizes nature in our lives. There is an environmental factor in our development of language. There is no empirical data to support it.
B.F. Skinner: Language through Reinforcement
B.F. Skinner, who developed operant conditioning, believed that children learned language through reinforcement. He believed that when a child said, “dad,” the parents reinforced the behavior by cheering and taking video footage. He felt that we rewarded and reinforced the acquisition of language. Skinner focused on nurture, our environment, and how this helps us learn language. If a child has parents that speak and communicate with the child, they will acquire language.
- Pieces of Evidence Proving the Theory: Children will imitate their parent or model’s speech pattern. People do acquire behaviors through reinforcements.
- Criticism of Skinner’s Theory: It is too simple. It cannot explain everything about human language. It also oversimplifies human behavior.
Think about it: children at 12 months are at the one-word approach. They speak one word and it contains a great deal of meaning. “Dog.” Decipher it from baby language and it means, Look Mommy at the cute dog.”
Children at 24 months are using the two-word approach. They use two words or telegraphic speech when speaking. “Doggy run.” Decipher it from baby language and it means, “Look Mommy at the dog running wildly over there.”
Children at 36 months use a three or multiple word approach. At this stage, children use multiple words and can use grammar properly. “Mom look at dog.” Now, there is no need to decipher it from baby language because at this stage, children are communicating with style and grace.
What do you think about how we learn language? Is it nature or nurture? Is it nature and nurture?