Language Acquisition: How does your child
learn to talk?
three main theories relating to how your child acquires language.
The ‘Behaviourist’ which places great
importance on children imitating the language of others supported by
reinforcement. This theory suggests children first need to hear
words and phrases, and then have reason to speak them, before
‘Nativist’ theory suggests that children are pre-programmed to learn
a rule governed language system. The theorist associated with this
is Noam Chomsky, who explained that all humans have a inborn
language acquisition device (LAD). He concluded that as children
learn language so effortlessly, without understanding the grammar or
rules behind it, they must therefore have a mechanism to acquire
language in this way.
The ‘Social Interactionist’ theory views the
importance of the
of the adult as
essential to language growth. Vygotsky’s theory relating to ‘the
zone of proximal development’ also suggests that through adult
support children’s language and thinking can be extended. According
to a study conducted the more conversation opportunities children
are exposed to with family the faster their rate of progress in
(Wells, Bristol Study, 1995).