Language Acquisition in Children - Essay Sample

7 pages
1722 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
Research paper
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

In the recent past, psychology scholars have written different articles creating controversial arguments about language acquisition in Children. In their discussions, psychology pioneers, differ to whether the environment and genetics play a role in language acquisition in children. For instance, in consideration of Lev Vygotsky's interactionist theory, Lev ascertains that social interaction plays a significant role in language acquisition. According to Lev, the Social Development Theory has a much role to play in the whole process of making meaning' among children (Anderson, 2001). On the other hand, Piaget disputes the theory advocated by Lev. Piaget states that a child's development ability is accompanied or instead proceeded by learning. Thus, Piaget in his understanding he ascertains that language development by a child is much influenced by education. The two scholars therefore differ.

Noam Chomsky believes that language development in human beings is an inmate. Chomsky ascertains that for children to acquire language, they undergo various stages in life which is natural in human life. Chomsky states that a child develops language in a pattern which is believed to occur in different critical development stages of the child. In citing an example, Chomsky narrates that there are grammatical errors that occur in various parts of the world and their pattern is just the same. Therefore, Noam notes that the grammatical errors experienced worldwide do not happen through chance. Through his universal grammar theory, Noam states that there is a hidden meaning as to why how languages across the world can manage to share grammatical features throughout. Thus, he disputes other theories, to him, Noam perceives that poetry is born within a child, and every child is born with the capacity to develop language.

On the other hand, Skinner believes that environment in which a child is brought up influences on the child's language development. Skinner states that a child's language is much influenced by the principles of association, conditioning, reinforcement as well as imitation. Through the principle of partnership and imitation, Skinner ascertains that a child will develop language through the environment and the people he or she is associated with at an early age. The atmosphere and the people in the context help the child to understand the language being spoken in the environment as well as the child starts to imitate what people in that particular situation tend to talk, and therefore the child starts to develop a language. Skinner has also received opposition from other scholars on the same issue.

Comparing Chomsky and Skinner's perspectives, one is right to argue out that the two scholars have argued differently in their theories. Chomsky says that language development in a child is an inmate structure which entails the human brain. The psychology scholar in his view states that there are some structures of the brain that interpret and control the whole process of language development in a child which is global. According to Chomsky, a child in any given environment does not need any motive or rather any trigger to start developing speech. On the other hand, Skinner disputes the suggestions or views given by Noam Chomsky that language development is an inmate in a child. Skinner suggests that Chomsky is wrong as the environment plays a more significant role in speech development of a kid. Furthermore, Skinner ascertains that imitations and interactions trigger speech development in children.

The two scholars also differ in the whole process of language acquisition. Chomsky assures his audience that there is a gap in a child's development stages that gives room for speech development. Noam believes that there is optimal learning age in a kid's life that supports the ability to develop language. The period of 3 to 10 years is considered to be a crucial gap when a child can grasp fluency naturally globally. On the other side, Skinner assures his audience through the interaction theory that the child needs his or her mother to develop speech. Skinner believes that the mother of a three-day kid contributes a lot to the development of the kid's speech. Skinner says that a mother communicates with the child through channels which are not easy to understand thus influencing the child's ability to develop the statement.

Additionally, there are similarities which have been noted in the two theories by Chomsky and Skinner. Both Chomsky and Skimmer enclose their arguments on the language development of the child. The study on child language development is thus perceived to be one of the similarities. On the same note, it is considered that environment plays the role and makes the contribution in both Skinner and Chomsky theories. Chomsky on the same point of environment speaks out that there are people around the child who will contribute to the learning of the child. For instance, learning contributes to speech development and Noam speaks about learning. A child will learn through the people associated with him which are considered to be his environment. Skinner also believes that kids will learn through imitations and reinforcement which are deemed to come from the situation. Therefore Chomsky and Skinner's theories have a similarity.

Behaviorism theory suggests that the environment influences the whole process of acquiring language in a child. Behaviorists believe that children are easily influenced by the surrounding at an early age hence developing speech. S. F Skinner is the foremost scholar of this theory, and he believes that imitation and repletion in learning enhance a child to learn something new hence he or she can acquire language (Skinner, 2008). Skinner states that children start to develop language or instead of speech through the gradual process of repeating of words or instead phrases. For instance, a child will repeat the phrase mum, mum, cup, ' and gradually the kid will start speaking in a well grammatical order mum cup.' Skinner in the behaviorism emphasizes that children acquire reinforcement through repetition and imitation in learning.

There are similarities between the Behaviorism theory and Interactionism theory. Both theories emphasize that environment plays a more significant role in the child's ability to acquire language. Interactionism theory or rather the Social Cognitive Theory suggests that kids learn language actually through interacting with elder children or rather with the surrounding people. Piaget who is the leading pioneer of this theory believes that physical interactions of children with the environment lead to the acquisition of language. On a similar note, Skinner' Behaviorism theory also suggests that the environment is a major factor to their child's speech development. Imitation and repetition of words and phrases by children are done through the whole process of learning, and the knowledge is achieved from the environment.

According to the Nativism theory, Chomsky believes that globally, children are born with language hence it is innate. Children have a pattern of developing grammar which he calls as Universal Grammar.' In this theory, children are naturally born with language, and hence the environment plays a lesser role in developing language. The rules of language acquisition are thus innate, and observation may not influence language development according to Noam (Chomsky, 2009). The fact that children spend a lot of time with their parents is not a guarantee that they develop language from them. They just have an understanding of language which they are born with. However, Chomsky's Nativism theory has received a lot of opposition from other psychological pioneers. For instance, one Morten Christiansen disputes this argument saying that language changes from time to time and hence the language pattern as proposed by Chomsky may not work out.

On his side dismisses that intelligence is a fixed trait in a child. Piaget believes that knowledge does not add up to the developing of language in a child. He states that interaction and biological maturation as related to the environment play a big role. To him, cognitive development theory recognizes intelligence as a product of the environment. Thus, Piaget also disagrees with Noam Chomsky's theory that a child is born intelligent with a language pattern. Thus' child constructs what is around them through interaction with the environment(Otto, 2006). Their physical experiences with the environment create a clear picture of the world and hence develop intelligence and speech from the surrounding. Piaget, therefore, disagrees with Chomsky's ideas and perspective on language acquisition by children.

Additionally, there are differences between Skinner and Chomsky's theory of speech development. Chomsky, a nativist, suggests that children are born into the world with a language acquisition device (LAD). Thus, this means that every human being is born with the ability to develop language in stages because they are born with the ability already. Chomsky carried out various examples in support of his theory but was later disputed by other psychology scholars. Skinner on his side is seen as an empiricist. Skinner believes that the parents and elder children contribute a lot to the language development of a kid. Parents are perceived to put more attention on children when they make grammatical errors, and hence pleasurable reactions accompany them when they do correct the grammatical mistakes (Skinner, 2008). Thus, the acquisition of language by a child is a process and not an event as perceived by other psychology pioneers. The two differ a lot considering the language acquisition, but later it is discovered that they have a specific similarity in their theories.

As evaluated above, the Interactionist theory differs with behaviorism theory. Chomsky in his theory states that children globally have a language pattern that they are born with. As argued above, Chomsky receives a lot of opposition as Moren indicates that language patterns continue to change day by day and hence the theory may lose relevance soon. On the other hand, Lev Vygotsky comes out with Social Cognitive Theory believing that interaction helps children to develop language. Lev suggests that children learn firsthand speech skills from their parents or those who they are closer with. Skinner who is also the founder of Operant Conditioning states that reinforcement triggers the ability for a child to acquire language as discussed above.


Anderson, M. (2001). Intelligence and development: A cognitive theory. Oxford [u.a.: Blackwell

Chomsky, N. (2009). Aspects of the theory of Nativist. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press

Otto, B. (2006). Language development in early childhood. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pear

Skinner, B. F. (2008). About behaviorism. Bridgewater, NJ: Distributed by Paw Prints/Baker & Taylor.son/Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Taylor, L. M. (2005). Introducing cognitive development. Hove [U.K.: Psychology Press.

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: