Theorists A number of distinct theoretical positions have been identified – some of the main protagonists being, as any textbook account will reveal: Chomsky, who believes the child is born with specific linguistic knowledge; Skinner, portrayed as believing that language is entirely a matter of conditioning; Piaget, who sees language development as an outgrowth of general cognitive development; and Bruner, who emphasises the importance of the social/interactional context in which language development takes place. Clark Theory Piaget, Clark, and others see the newborn as possessing only a few basic cognitive abilities.
The more specific abilities we see in the developing child, they argue, are due to interactions with the environment and are independent of any inheritable code found in the genes. They place language skills in this category, and so they disagree completely with Chomskys assertion that humans inherit certain linguistic knowledge. In addition, proponents of the Nurture ideology view public language as a tool constructed by people for use by people, and they believe its development is due o Cultural Revolution, a completely different mechanism for change.
Skinner’s theory Skinner, who was a Behaviourist, argued that language acquisition is like any kind of cognitive behaviour – it is learnt by reinforcement and shaping. He also calls this operant conditioning – where the child goes through trial-and-error, in other words, where the child tries and fails to use correct language until it succeeds; with reinforcement and shaping provided by the parents gestures (smiles, attention and approval) which are pleasant to the child. Parents, whom ignore unfamiliar sounds nd show increased attention to the reinforced phonemes, extinguish the acquisition of phonemes and morphemes.
The morphemes then become refined into words by shaping. Parents’ accuracy will lead to total extinguishment of “baby’ pronunciation and finally, by selective reinforcement and behaviour shaping, words will be shaped into telegraphic two-word sentences, later into sentences until the full language has been acquired. Skinner differentiated between two types of verbal responses that a child makes. One of them, the mind is verbal behaviour that is reinforced by the child eceiving something it wants.
For example, when the child sees a chocolate, it can show its own demand by calling out “choc”. As the child used appropriate verbal behaviour, he then receives chocolate and reinforcement. The other one is tact, which is verbal behaviour caused by imitating others. For instance, when a parent points at an object and says “ball”, the child imitates this word and the parent will then approve, which is Just another form of reinforcement. Chomskys theory Chomsky, who was a linguist, argues that the ability of language acquisition is innate;