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Chapter 2 : Theoretical Approaches to language acquisition A.

Distinguishing Features of Theoretical Approaches Structuralism versus Functionalism Structuralism language teaching was centered on grammatical aspects, and in learning formal linguistic elements and rules. speakers able to use language correctly. Sets of Rules Accurate language use

Functionalism studied and compared different languages to analyze the relation between the linguistic form and meaning. Commuicative meaning and interaction, not forms Free writing Learners can communicate fluently, but not accurately focuses on communicative competence, so the need for communication is achieved Communicative Competence More freedom and less stress to the learners. L1 AND L2 Enhances learners autonomy and promotes self-monitoring.

Competence versus Performance Competence Concerned with the childs grammar, the linguistic input and construction of the grammatical structures

Performance Deals with the nature of the childs rule system; the psychological processes the child uses in learning the language and how the child establishes meaning in the language input

Nativism versus Empiricism Nativism Innate language-specific compoent Critical aspects of language are innate (acquired too rapidly to have been learned from any simple learing or imitation) Linguistic perspective/Nativist View (LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE (LAD: A biologically based, innate module for picking up language needs only to be triggered by verbal input from the environment. Within the LAD is a universal grammar: a part of the LAD that contais all the basic rules grammar that underlie all human languages)

Empiricism Empirical input + general cogitive capabilities Langauge is simply a learned behavior (Nature vs Nurture) Language Theory/Behaviorism (focus on observable language behavior, language learned through imitation of parents and conditioning/reinforcement)

Chapter 2 : Theoretical Approaches to language acquisition

Evaluating Research Methods

B. Classic Behavioral Approaches Behavioral Language Learning

Evaluation of the behavioral approaches

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) discovered classical conditioning: learning is the involutary of association of stimulus and response. conditioned stimulus: the procedure shows how one might learn to associate a neutral event unconditioned stimulus : with another event to which one has a strong automatic reaction Adult utters water whenever the child sees water Unconditioned stimulus: water Unconditioned respose: the child... After conditioning: Conditioned stimulus: the word water Conditioned response : the child drinks B.F. Skinners Operant Conditioning: ---- learning in which a voluntary response is strengthned or weakned, depending on its positive or negative consequences. works with voluntary muscles only, in contrast to Pavlovs classical conditioning. Supporting Evidence Contrary Evidence

C. Linguistic Approaches LAD and Development

Evaluation of the Linguistic approaches

A sort of neurological wiring that, regardless of the language to be acquired, allows a child to listen to a language, decipher the rules of that language, and begin creating with the language at a very young age. With the LAD they are able to make or understand utterances that they have not previously heard. The LAD is a brain structure that consists of neural wiring. The LAD theory states that learners have an innate ability to know the structure and rules of a language, and this facilitates language learning. Supporting Evidence Contrary Evidence

Chapter 2 : Theoretical Approaches to language acquisition D. Interactionist Approaches Emphasizes the interaction betwee the environment and biological/cognitive development. Interactionist approach exists between the nature versus nurture approaches. Interactionist approach focuses on social interactions between L2 learners and the target language speakers. These interactions give the L2 learners feedback on both correct and incorrect language usage. Cognitive Approaches: Piagets Theory and informationprocessing Models He beleieved that childrens thinking passed through four separate stages and changed qualitatively in each of these stages. He emphasized the importance of maturation and the provision of a stimulating environment for children to explore We all have an innate learning ability. Children are born with specialised information processing abilities that enable them to figure out structure of development
Emphasised the importance of relationships and interactions between children and more knowledgeable peers and adults. The environment plays an important role in a childs development, particularly in the social aspects of development. Focused on the notion that children internalise feelings, emotions and ideas and language is a key factor in the development of concepts


Information-Processing Approach


Social Interaction Approach (Vgotskys)


Chapter 2 : Theoretical Approaches to language acquisition

E. Gestural and Usage-Based Approach Gestural and Sign Origins Usage-Based Theory