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Language Acquisition Theories Essay Sample

Free Language Acquisition Essays and Papers

This part will involve a general introduction of the lesson. The main task in this case will involve definition of the term language acquisition. At the same time, a number of theories will be put forward in line with the aspect of language acquisition. Out of the main theories outlined, two major ones will be picked and addressed to emphasize on the topic.

What is the Language Acquisition?

Language acquisition can be defined as the process through which human beings obtain the ability to perceive, use as well as produce words in order to understand and hence communicate. The process involves picking up a variety of capacities like phonetics, syntax in addition to an extensive vocabulary (Chomsky 1999). The acquired language might take two forms which include vocal language where there is the use of speech and words and manual language which comprises the use of signs.

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The term language acquisition has always been used to refer to first language acquisition where infants pick up their native language. The other one is second language acquisition which deals with the acquisition of additional languages. This takes place during the later stages of development especially after infancy.

A number of theories have been put forward in a bid to describe the aspect of language acquisition. Some of the common theories include:

The above mentioned theories are the major ones in language acquisition. This lesson shall therefore involve comparing the two. According to the behaviorism theory, it was argued that the process of learning language can be achieved through a form of condition called operant conditioning. According to skinner in his argument in line with verbal behavior, he suggested that the continued use of a sign reinforces its contextual or momentary probability (Chomsky 1999). The sign used may either be a word or a lexical unit and the reinforcement occurs when the sign used is given a stimulus.

However, this theory was strongly criticized by Noam Chomsky who considered it largely mythology. On the other hand he advocated for a more theoretical approach. This approach was based on the study of syntax.

Empiricist’s theory

The Empiricists on the other hand gave the aspect of language acquisition a different approach all together.  Compared to the theory of behaviorism which seemed to emphasize on innate behaviors, theories by the empiricists talked more about the connection between the environment of a child and language acquisition. For instance, the social interactionist theory explores the fact that a child may acquire a particular language out of the interaction that he/she has with the environment. The environment in this case comprises the people around the child like the parents and the siblings. This is the same case posited in the rational frame theory as well s the theory of functionalist linguistics. In all these cases, the major issue that has been emphasized is the fact that language acquisition is majorly a function a child’s interaction with the environment.

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Comparison and contrast

From the above brief descriptions of the theories, it is evident that both of them give the process of language acquisition a different meaning in each case. For instance according to the behaviorists, it is triggered internally. The Empiricists however believe that its origin is external i.e. the environment influences language acquisition.

However, there is also a common aspect which can be noted in each case. Both the two theories present language acquisition as a process which only occurs if it is emphasized by something else. In the Empiricist’s theory, the main source of influence is the surrounding or the environment of a child. In the theory of behaviorism, operant condition makes the basis upon which the process proceeds.

From the above discussion, it is therefore possible to conclude that language acquisition can take many forms. This may depend on the theory that has been put forward in order to describe it. At the same time, it is a process which involves a number of stages and issues. It is therefore probable that not all the theories posited by individuals can be able to fully define the aspect of language acquisition. The two discussed above are therefore the main ones which have commonly been used in the understanding of language acquisition.

By allowing the lesson to flow in this manner, it will be possible for the learners to grab the main subject of the lesson. This subject involves the incorporation of different theories to explain the aspect of language acquisition. The learners can also be involved during the lesson in order to point out their level of exposure in line with the subject in question. As a way of ensuring that the point is driven home a short quiz can be conducted at the end of the lesson but this will depend the extent to which we shall have covered the content. This will help in achieving the objectives as indicated in the lesson plane.