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THE NATIVIST AND FUNCTIONAL APPROACHES / ISSUES IN

FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

REFLECTION:

What I learned was some information about ‘Nativist Approach ,


Functional Approach and some issues in first language acquisition.’
Linguist Noam Chomsky proposed that children have a knowledge of
underlying abstract rules,which allow them to understand and create novel
utterances. This innate knowledge is kept in a ‘box’ which is called
language acquisition device (LAD) that fosters the development of
language genes. Thus, Chomsky reasoned language must not be
considered a product of environmental factors, but rather of cognition. The
Nativists, unlike The Behaviourists who think that children can learn a
language through NURTURE, think that children are born with an ability to
learn a language NATURALLY. Furthermore, I learned that Nativists made
a research about child language acquisition and ‘Universal Grammar’ has
come to be known. According to this research , regardless of where they
come from, children make the same mistakes at any stage syntacticly.
Also, I learned that children view the language holistically, rather than as
pieces. It is believed that children learn best not when they are learning
language piece by piece, but rather when they are working to understand
the meaning of contex. So, students learn language systematically, as an
integrated system. When it is asked to a child what the meaning of ‘carrot’
is, she cannot answer but she can say ‘I like carrots’.

According to linguists , children’s first class of words are generally


steady which is called ‘pivot’ however their second class of words are
changeable which is called ‘open’. It is thought that this two seperate word
classes aren’t uttered together at random by children. It is so because the
first class of words such as ‘my,that etc..’ can co-occur with ‘dog, milk ,
sock etc…’ and this is called ‘pivot grammar.’

When it comes to ‘Functional Approach’, I can say that children


should perform certain functions within a social contex. What children
know will determine what they learn about the code for both speaking and
understanding the message . So , here it is important the functions of
language. Being able to communicate requires more than linguistic
competence. It requires communicative competence . Thus, The Nativists
failed to explain first language acquisition. They just give importance to
‘pivot grammar’ except the function of language. I also learned that there
should be exposure to the language in first language acquisition. Without
social interaction and discourse , children are unable to speak that
language even if they have the capasity and the ability.
We also talked about ‘competence and performance’ again .
Competence is our underlying knowledge about the language whereas
performance is the usage of competence. Chomsky claims that
performance is partly damaged because of distractions, false starts,
pauses etc… So, according to Chomsky, competence is perfect. Children
that are in the process of first language acquisition are not interested in
competence. They mostly focus on performance. However, due to the fact
that there are some linguists who think that there may be some problems
related to the competence , as well , Chomsky is criticized because of his
view.

I learned another language acquisition theory based on


‘comprehension and production.’ Comprehension is related to the
receptive skills such as listening and reading while production is related to
the productive skills such as speaking and writing. Children seem to
understand ‘more’ than they actually produce. They can comprehend but
they cannot produce, like us

What I have difficulty in figuring out is nothing for the time being.
You explain all the subject clearly. Especially your body language makes
me laugh and enables me to understand the message at the same time.

I suppose I need to focus more on revising the subjects that we have


learned in order not to forget and not to confuse because there are lots of
theories about first language acquisition.

Consequently, I believe the importance of social interaction in


language acquisition. Every teacher observes that students can produce
sentences accurately in a lesson, but can not use them appropriately when
communicating outside of the classroom because of the lack of exposure
to the language. Moreover, students may know the rules of linguistic
usage , but be unable to use the language. So, discourse is absolutely
important in order to enable students to learn from each other and to
create an interaction among themselves. Just teaching is meaningless
unless it is put into practise by the students. So, when I become a tecaher,
I will use mostly input activities in my teaching as well as learning
exercises because I believe the idea that learning doesn’t lead to
acquisition!