Language Acquisition Theorists (Cognitivist Theory (Jean Piaget) …
Language Acquisition Theorists
Children are born with an inherited ability to learn any human language.
Language Acquisition Device
Every child is born with a LAD that encodes the major principles of a language and its grammatical structures into the brain.
Children have then only to learn new vocabulary and apply the syntactic structures from the LAD to form sentences.
Chomsky says that a child can't learn a language through imitation alone because the language spoken around them is highly irregular – adult’s speech is often broken up and even sometimes ungrammatical.
He proposed that every child, no matter what language they speak, is born with an innate knowledge of grammar - this is called Universal Grammar.
Piaget based his theory on the idea that children do not think like adults.
He concluded that through their interactions with their environment, children actively construct their own understanding of the world.
Children’s language reflects the development of their logical thinking and reasoning skills in "periods" or stages.
Birth to 2 years old: Children are born with basic “action schema,” such as sucking and grasping. He described the sensory-motor period as the time when children use action schema to "assimilate" information about the world.
Two functions of children's language: the "egocentric" and the "socialized." During the sensory-motor period, children's language is "egocentric": they talk either for themselves or "for the pleasure of associating anyone who happens to be there with the activity of the moment."
Between 2 to 7 years old: The development of their mental schema lets them quickly "accommodate" new words and situations. From using single words (for example, “milk”), they begin to construct simple sentences (for example, “mommy go out”).
Describes children’s language as “symbolic,” allowing them to venture beyond the “here and now” and to talk about such things as the past, the future, people, feelings and events. During this time, children’s language often shows instances of of what Piaget termed “animism” and “egocentrism.”
Animism and Egocentrism
“Animism” refers to young children's tendency to consider everything, including inanimate objects, to be alive.
Children's language also reflects their "egocentrism," whereby they attribute phenomena with the same feelings and intentions as their own.
Formal Operational Period
Concrete Operational Period
Social Interaction Theory
Language Acquisition Support System
The LASS is the idea that caregivers support their children's linguistic development in social situations, by interacting and encouraging the child to respond (by pointing, asking questions).
By experiencing good quality interaction with caregivers, children learn to take a more active role in social situations.
The importance of Bruner's theory is highlighted by extreme cases of deprivation ('feral children'), where children who have not experienced interaction with caregivers early on in life have subsequent difficulties acquiring language later on.
It is thought that there is a 'critical period', where if children do not experience caregiver interaction by a certain stage in development, their linguistic abilities will never develop fully. This is generally thought to be before the ages 5-6.
Scaffolding relates to the way that an adult's support of a child is withdrawn as they learn the skills and can manage on their own.