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Theories of Language Development – Language (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:01 All right, let’s get into Theories of Language Development.

    00:04 How was it that we actually understand what we speak? And how do we interact with others in the different types of language? So, it’s an interesting process.

    00:15 There are different theories of language development and one of them revolves around language acquisition.

    00:22 So it’s a process by which children learn to understand and speak their native tongue.

    00:26 So, in this model sorry, with this premise, there are different theories or models that we want to talk about.

    00:32 The first being the nativist theory and there’s the empiricist theory and then there’s the behaviorist theory.

    00:37 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.

    00:50 So, in the first theory, nativist theory is proposed by Noam Chomsky.

    00:53 And what he suggested was that all children have this specific area in their brain called the innate language activation device or LAD.

    01:02 So LAD is an area of the brain that has a set of universal syntactic rules for all languages.

    01:07 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.

    01:19 The idea was later renamed Universal Grammar, UG.

    01:22 The LAD provides children with the ability to construct novel sentences using learned vocabulary.

    01:27 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.

    01:35 So increasing its vocab and feeding that into the LAD to generate this language.

    01:41 So, linguistic input alone is insufficient to explain how they learn language.

    01:45 They’re saying, based on this model or this theory, you need more than just hearing words in order to understand a language.

    01:53 And therefore, certain rules must be innate in the brain.

    01:56 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.

    02:02 And they’re suggesting that these types of rules are the things that are embedded and found within the LAD or the Universal Grammar.

    02:10 Now, another theory is the empiricist theory.

    02:12 And this empiricist theory, they say the general brain processes are sufficient for language acquisition and the LAD is actually not needed.

    02:20 And the child needs to be actively engaged in the environment and acquire understandings, definitions and it learns those rules.

    02:28 And that the parent and caregiver will interact using child directed speech or CDS.

    02:32 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.

    02:50 And they start to hear words.

    02:52 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.

    03:02 And they’re saying that they don’t actually require the LAD and that therefore it’s not needed.

    03:08 Now, the behaviorist theory is a little bit different.

    03:10 So this is from our friend B.F. Skinner.

    03:12 You may remember him from our Skinner box and the whole thing around operant conditioning.

    03:18 And he kind of applies operant conditioning to language acquisition.

    03:21 And he says it follows a very similar mechanism.

    03:25 And he says, basically, we use positive reinforcement when imitating stimuli and getting the correct response.

    03:31 So, for example, you know, you have a young little baby who’s just speaking gibberish.

    03:36 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.

    03:42 I love you. You’re learning. You’re so smart, dada.” Now, 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.

    04:02 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.

    04:20 Okay? Now, what this does is it conditions infant to make the sound associates to the stimulus like I just said.

    04:26 And then it encourages this imitative behavior.

    04:28 And so, Skinner is proposing that.

    04:30 It starts building a vocabulary based on this positive reinforcement at least in the early stages.

    04:35 So dada is followed by mama, is followed by, you know, bottle, poo-poo, pee-pee, you know, all these different things.

    04:42 And all of a sudden, the child has now acquired enough vocabulary to be able to indicate the things that it wants.

    04:48 Okay? And it’s all positively reinforced by the responses and behaviors of the parent or caregiver.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Theories of Language Development – Language (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Making Sense of the Environment.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Behaviorist theory
    2. Empiricist theory
    3. Nativist theory
    4. Interactionist perspective
    5. Social theory
    1. Empiricist theory
    2. Chomsky's theory
    3. Interactionist perspective
    4. Paget's theory
    5. Universal grammar
    1. Universal grammar
    2. Operant conditioning
    3. Social interactionist theory
    4. Empiricist theory
    5. Behaviorist theory
    1. Behavior theory
    2. Nativist theory
    3. Empiricist theory
    4. Social interactionist theory
    5. Minimalist theory

    Author of lecture Theories of Language Development – Language (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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