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Theories of Language Development Study Notes

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Theories of Language Development
Objectives:
- Be able to state the three key questions for language development theories
- Be able to explain to describe the distinguishing features of major theoretical approaches
Taxonomy of Theoretical Adequacy
- Descriptive Adequacy→ characteristic of a model or theory that assures that it is capable of
describing and cataloging all relevant behaviors and distinguishing them from those that are
not relevant
- Model Adequacy→ Characteristic of a theory of model that includes principles that can
account for the relevant behaviors
- Theoretical Adequacy→ Characteristic of a theory or model that contains principles that not
only account for observed behaviors, but there are the actual principles individuals use to
attain those behaviors
Distinguishing Features of Theoretical Approaches
- Structuralism v. Functionalism
- Structuralism: Discovery of invariant features
- Functionalism: Determination of relationships b/w the environment and language
- Competence v. Performance
- Competence: Inner knowledge
- Performance: Language production
- Nativism v. Empiricism
- Nativism: Focuses on children’s innate abilities
- Empiricism: Focuses on how language is learned through child’s relationship w/
individuals in the environment
Theories of Language Development
- Behavioral Approaches
- Linguistic Approaches
- Interactionist Approaches
- General Assumptions of Behavioral Approaches
- Focuses on observable and measurable aspects of language
- Emphasize performance
- Regard language as a skill

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- Empirical end of the continuum
- Language Learning
- Classical conditioning
- Explains how connections are
formed b/w stimuli and
responses
- Children learn meanings of
words by forming associations
b/w “external verbal stimuli
and internal responses”
Language Learning
- Operant conditioning
- Reinforced behaviors are likely to occur again
- Children’s language is shaped into adults’ language
- Imitation
- Supporting Evidence:
- Operant Conditioning and reinforcement
- Imitation and language development
Contrary Evidence:
- Difference between adult learning and child learning
- Parents reinforce content of utterances
- Language as “just another behavior”
Behavioral Therapy Approaches
- Traditional Therapy:
- Immediate imitation→ she is running
- Delayed imitation→ the girl is running. What is she doing?
- Spontaneous production→ what is the girl doing?
- Recent approaches
- Incidental teaching
- Mand-model
- Delayed procedure
General Assumptions of Linguistic Approaches
- Language is innate
- Language is species specific
- Language is similar across languages and cultures
LAD & Development
- LAD provides children with innate knowledge of language
- Children of “cryptographers”
- Where does the theory fall in terms of:
- Structuralism-functionalism
- Nativism-Empiricism
- Competence-Performance
How Language Develops
- Newborns tune into sounds that are linguistically significant

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Theories of Language Development Objectives: - Be able to state the three key questions for language development theories - Be able to explain to describe the distinguishing features of major theoretical approaches Taxonomy of Theoretical Adequacy - Descriptive Adequacy→ characteristic of a model or theory that assures that it is capable of describing and cataloging all relevant behaviors and distinguishing them from those that are not relevant - Model Adequacy→ Characteristic of a theory of model that includes principles that can account for the relevant behaviors - Theoretical Adequacy→ Characteristic of a theory or model that contains principles that not only account for observed behaviors, but there are the actual principles individuals use to attain those behaviors Distinguishing Features of Theoretical Approaches - Structuralism v. Functionalism - Structuralism: Discovery of invariant features - Functionalism: Determination of relationships b/w the environment and language - Competence v. Performance - Competence: Inner knowledge - Performance: Language production - Nativism v. Empiricism - Nativism: Focuses on children’s innate abilities - Empiricism: Focuses on ...
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