Language Development – Literature review Example

MAIN MODELS OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT By: Language development The development of language in humans takes various forms, but there seems to be a number of models concerning the exact occurrences in the systems. In essence, language development entails the ability by humans to produce, perceive and use words in order to both understand and communicate appropriately. It is appropriate to point out that there has been no sufficient evidence to prove any model perfect. Normally, there are several stages when children can develop their communication capability, and they all vary. This paper will review three models – Nativist, behaviourist and Interactionist.
The Nativist theory was popularised by one Noah Chomsky whose stand was that universally children have an innate language acquisition Device or LAD. The model implies that the LAD, which, in essence, is a part of the brain holding syntax structures for nearly every language, is critical in helping children construct words. Chomsky strongly argued the information received by children is not sufficient in offering a clear explanation as to how their language is learnt. In other words, the environment children are raised in is not solely responsible for the development and acquisition of a language (Landau, 2009). Rather, LAD process the learnt information and produce a complete speech or words though not instantly.
In fact, the proponents of the Nativist assert that the outside language that adults try to influence children with tend to have errors thus not reliable. For many years, this theory has been publicised with a section of renowned authors expressing their support (Landau, 2009). Nonetheless, not everyone embraces the ideas portrayed by this theory with some opposing the notion of a system called LAD. Social interactionist hold the view that the outside community is vital to the language development and acquisition. Besides having a major influence, the proponents argue that children will learn while interacting with others as opposed to the nativists’ theory. Mainly, a child’s ability to understand and possess better language skills is dependent on the giver’s attention and attitude where communicative and interactive text is communicated (McLaughlin, 2010). Without the help of outsiders, the child will have trouble in developing language abilities.
Behaviourists’ theory, which was developed by BF Skinner, comes close to Social interactionists although there is a slight variance. Whereas the latter propagates the help of parents in conjunction with the child, behaviourists delve further by claiming other factors play a role. Skinner asserted that conditioning, imitation, association and reinforcement are all crucial in language development (McLaughlin, 2010). However, critics of this theory argue that the rate at which children acquires a language cannot be attributed to learning.
Notwithstanding all the differences present in these theories, one major similarity within the three is agreement on the stages of language acquisition. Children go through four major stages before acquiring normal speech. The first one that occurs in the first six months include cooing that, in essence, involves a child’s tendency to speak, but cannot. Secondly, babbling occurs when a child attains nine months where a child will be heard trying to utter words from the native language (Yang, 2006). It is here that the Social interactionists argue that a child cannot utter the native words without having heard before hence the importance of outside help (Landau, 2009).
Once a child attains twelve months, there is a tendency to mention a whole word without full ability to construct a sentence. Upon the attainment of two years, a child can now speak a couple of words that may not yet be meaningful. The stage is called telegraphic, and Social interactionists assert that a child could do better if outside help were ample. Finally, the normal speech occurs once a child has passed this stage, normally up to five years, in which it is possible for them to communicate both eloquently and sensibly (Yang, 2006).
Landau, B. (2009). The Importance of the Nativist-Empiricist Debate: Thinking About
Primitives Without Primitive Thinking. Child Development Perspectives, 3(2), 88-90.
McLaughlin, S.F. (2010). Verbal Behaviour by B.F Skinner: contributions to analyzing early
language learning. Journal of Speech- Language Pathology and Applied Behaviour Analysis.
Yang, Charles (2006). The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn All the Languages of
the World. New York: Scribner