Comparing Perspectives On Language Development English Language Essay

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The purpose of this paper is to compare between two major perspectives on language development which is nativist and empiricist. Language is a communication system in which written symbols and words combine in different regulated ways to produce an infinite number of messages. There are three key features of language. There are also three theories of language learning. Burrhus Frederic Skinner believes in nativist theory while Noam Chomsky believes in empiricist theory. Nativism is the belief that language is inborn, they are specified by the organism genes. Empiricism is the belief that knowledge or language is based entirely on experience acquired in interaction with the environment. The paper argues the different perspective by different psychologist in language development. They all have their own way of thinking and after two major perspectives on language development is examined, the paper concludes with an overview of what I have done in my research.

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Two major perspectives on language development

Language represents thoughts, objects and events through specific and different symbols. Example like the word baby does not look or sounds like a real baby. Language is productive as there is no limitations to the number or types of words that human can create and use. People communicate about things that are distant in time or space or even nonexistent things through language.

There are three theories on language learning. The three theories are learning perspective nurture which is empiricism, nativist perspective nurture which is nativist and the interactionist perspective which is both nativist and empiricism. In learning perspective nurture, they believe that infants are directly taught but in nativist perspective nature, they believe that infant teaches themselves. Interactionist perspectives affect language development.

The nativist view

Nativism is the belief that knowledge or language is already in them when they are born into the world. They are specified by the organism genes. The problem with nativist view is that some aspect of children's grammatical language development takes years therefore it appears to be very largely dependent on interaction with the environment they are in. Another problem is different language environment have different effects on development.

According to the theory of Noam Chomsky on nativism, infant teach themselves. Noam Chomsky proposes that humans are equipped with Language Acquisition Device (LAD). Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is like a part of the brain that is supposed to function as a congenital device for learning language like symbolic and language acquisition.

Research support for theory of nativist

According to Noam Chomsky, babies are eager learners. There are genetic programming and categorization. In nativist perspective, I think that it is the effort to explain how language forms without formal training when babies are just born.

Humans are biologically primed to acquire and learn language. Humans are born with Language Acquisition Device (LAD). Language Acquisition Device (LAD) contains a universal grammar. It is knowledge of rules common to all languages which allows children with sufficient vocabulary to make new combinations of words or words they have never hear before in their environment.

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There are physical structures that are specialized for language. It is also proven that human mouth and throat is specially suited for producing the complex sounds of language. Others species are not able to produce these sounds like how humans does it. There is also a specific area in the human brain that specialized in processing information such as linguistic information.

In most people, the left hemisphere is responsible for processing language information. In the left temporal lobe which is the wernicke's area, this area helps to understand spoken words and produce coherent spoken or written language. In the left frontal lobe which is the broca's area, this area directs the patterns of muscle movements necessary for producing speech in humans. There is also a band of fibers that connect this two areas which involved in processing written language.

The empiricist view

Empiricism is the belief that knowledge or language is based entirely on experiences in interaction with their environment. Empiricism focuses on observable language behavior.

According to theory of Burrhus Frederic Skinner on empiricism, infants are taught. He emphasizes on the role of the environment. Infants acquire language through operant conditioning. Through grammatical speech, they reinforce language learning. Burrhus Frederic Skinner believes that the quantity and quality of talking to their children can affect the rate of their language development.

It is important that parents do imitation and modeling to their children. This would helps the child gets it right at faster pace. A example of doing imitation and modeling to their children is like when a child says "Mmmm" while looking directly at their mother, the mother should respond their child with "that's right, it's mummy".

Research support for theory of empiricist

It is important for parental input and maternal responsiveness. In learning language, limitation, modeling and reinforcement play a very significant role for them to learn language. Parents should pay more attention to smile to their child and respond to them verbally to speech sounds that sounds like words. Children acquire speech patterns in their culture and regional accent. Different culture and regional accent play a big part here as babies get adapted to it when they are young therefore they are responding automatically to their environment.