All right, let’s get into
Theories of Language Development.
How was it that we actually
understand what we speak?
And how do we interact with others
in the different types of language?
it’s an interesting process.
There are different theories
of language development
and one of them revolves
around language acquisition.
So it’s a process by which children learn to
understand and speak their native tongue.
So, in this model
sorry, with this premise,
there are different theories or
models that we want to talk about.
The first being the
and there’s the empiricist theory and
then there’s the behaviorist theory.
So we’re going to walk
through each and we’re going
to explain how they’re
a little bit different
and they try their best to explain
how it is that we, as children,
slowly develop and acquire
this different language.
So, in the first theory, nativist
theory is proposed by Noam Chomsky.
And what he suggested was that all
children have this specific area
in their brain called the innate
language activation device or LAD.
So LAD is an area of the
brain that has a set
of universal syntactic
rules for all languages.
So it’s irrespective of
what language you’re
speaking and what global
region you’re from,
we all have this brain
region that has the set of
universal rules for all
different types of languages.
The idea was later renamed
Universal Grammar, UG.
The LAD provides children
with the ability to
construct novel sentences
using learned vocabulary.
So the vehicle or the rules in which to
create a language are already preset,
but it’s taking and acquiring the
different words that it’s learning.
So increasing its vocab and feeding that
into the LAD to generate this language.
So, linguistic input alone is insufficient
to explain how they learn language.
They’re saying, based on
this model or this theory,
you need more than just hearing words
in order to understand a language.
And therefore, certain rules
must be innate in the brain.
So how do we know that a word is
really a noun or verb or an adjective?
That’s not really taught,
you just kind of know.
And they’re suggesting that these
types of rules are the things that
are embedded and found within the
LAD or the Universal Grammar.
Now, another theory is
the empiricist theory.
And this empiricist theory, they say
the general brain processes are
sufficient for language acquisition
and the LAD is actually not needed.
And the child needs to be actively
engaged in the environment
and acquire understandings, definitions
and it learns those rules.
And that the parent and caregiver will
interact using child directed speech or CDS.
So, if you think of, you
know, a young child
and typically how they’re
reared is, you know, being with
one or both parents over
the daycare provider
being socially active
with other children
with some adults revision
obviously, they start to
interact and engage with
those in and around them.
And they start to hear words.
And, you know, they hear
no, no, no or milk or
bottle or blankly and all
these different things
and they start to build the
vocabulary and they use all of that
to generate the language.
And they’re saying that
they don’t actually require
the LAD and that therefore
it’s not needed.
Now, the behaviorist theory
is a little bit different.
So this is from our friend B.F. Skinner.
You may remember him
from our Skinner box and
the whole thing around
And he kind of applies operant
conditioning to language acquisition.
And he says it follows a
very similar mechanism.
And he says, basically, we
use positive reinforcement
when imitating stimuli and
getting the correct response.
So, for example, you know, you have a young
little baby who’s just speaking gibberish.
And the baby might
utter the words
“dada” and all of
sudden, what do you do?
You’re like, “Oh my God, you said dada.
I’m your dada.
I love you. You’re learning.
You’re so smart, dada.”
does the baby really understand
that it said a word “dada”
and that it was talking to you?
Or was he just imitating a word
that you’re always saying to him
when you’re saying, “Oh, come
on, say dada, say dada.”
The child has no choice one day
by chance to say the words dada.
And all of sudden because you that freaked out,
you’re positively reinforcing
his behavior of saying dada
and it kind of marks in the brain saying,
“Okay, this weird guy who changes my
diaper has just freaked out when I said
dada. Maybe I should say that again.”
And so, now, you’re positively
reinforcing the behavior.
what this does is it
conditions infant to make the
sound associates to the
stimulus like I just said.
And then it encourages
this imitative behavior.
And so, Skinner is
It starts building a
vocabulary based on this
positive reinforcement at
least in the early stages.
So dada is followed by mama, is
followed by, you know, bottle,
poo-poo, pee-pee, you know,
all these different things.
And all of a sudden, the child
has now acquired enough
vocabulary to be able to indicate
the things that it wants.
And it’s all positively
the responses and behaviors
of the parent or caregiver.