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THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

Prepared
  by:
Ms. Marites Mopera-Roh
“nativism”

Language
Acquisition
Theories

distinction or   “nurture” and 
“empiricism” “nature”
all knowledge comes from
empiricism experience, ultimately from
our interaction with the
environment through our
reasoning or senses.
which holds that at least
nativism some knowledge is not
acquired through interaction
with the environment, but is
genetically transmitted and
innate.
disagree thoroughly with the
nurturists nativist ideas nor do nativists
(environmenta with the nurturist ideas
lists)
1.Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development

O social interaction plays an important role in 
the learning process

O emphasizes the role of “shared language” in 
the development of thought and language
SHARED LANGUAGE
“social
interaction and
can be best
elucidated
throug”h the
notion of “zone
of proximal
development”
Zone of Proximal Development
OChildren mostly choose to remain 
silent or speak less on their own 
(less egocentric speech) when they 
are alone. However, they prefer to 
speak to other children when they 
play games with them (more 
egocentric speech).
2.2. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior

O claims that language development is the result


of a set of habits

O was termed behaviorism by John B. Watson in


1923

OKnowledge is the product of interaction with


the environment through stimulus-response
conditioning.
O a popular example of the nurturist
ideas

o reflection of Audiolingual Method or


the Army Method
2.3. Piaget’s View of Language
Acquisition

O Proponent was:

PIAGET- both biologist and


psychologist
O language acquisition Is a case of
general human learning

O there is no specific language module

O language acquisitionresults mainly


from external factors or social
interactions.
Course of intellectual development is as follows:

O-  The sensorimotor stage from ages 0


to 2 (understanding the environment)

- The preoperational stage from ages 2


to 7 (understanding the symbols)
-
OThe concrete operational stage from
ages 7 to 11 (mental tasks and language
use)
O
- The formal operational stage from the
age 11 onwards (dealing with
abstraction)
2.4. Cognitive Theory: The Language Acquisition View

O based on the work of psychologists

O emphasizes the importance of meaning,


knowing and understanding

O see second language acquisition, on the other


hand, as the “building up of knowledge systems
that can eventually be called automatically for
speaking and understanding” 
O Does not support Audiolingual method for
its theory based on reinforcement and
conditioning

O stated that adults learning a second


language could profit from certain
grammatical explanations
Oadults do really profit from such explanations
depends on :
(1) the suitability and efficiency of the explanation
(2) the teacher
(3) the context
(4) other pedagogical variables.

Though children do not use deductive presentations


of grammar and they do not have superior cognitive
capacities, they acquire their mother tongue quite
successfully.
2.5. The Discourse Theory

O emphasizes that language development


should be viewed within the framework of
how the learner discover the meaning
capacity of language by taking part in
communication.

O reflects the principles of communicative


competence (by Del Hymes) 
O Communicative competence includes:
1. knowledge of the grammar and
vocabulary
2. knowledge of rules of speaking
3. knowledge of how to use and respond to
different types of speech acts and social
conventions
4. knowledge of how to use language
appropriately
Discourse theory views
that:
O A language learner needs to “know” 
conversational strategies to acquire the 
language. 

O Language acquisition happens through 
becoming communicative competent and 
pragmatically competent.
2.6. The Speech Act Theory

O holds that saying something is a way of doing 
something

O two kinds of meaning are seen in utterances
Prepositional meaning 
O refers to the basic literal meaning of
the utterance conveyed by the
particular words or structures
Illocutionary meaning
O refers to the “effect” the spoken or written
text has on the listener or reader. For
instance the utterances including
“threatening” or “apologizing” might have
“presupposition” or “implicature” effects
that listeners strive to figure out.
2.7. The Universal Grammar Theory

O is more of an L1 acquisition theory rather than 
L2

O attempts to clarify the relatively quick 
acquisition of L1s on the basis of ‘minimum 
exposure’ to external input
O believe that both children and adults utilize similar 
universal principles when acquiring a language; 
and LAD is still involved in the acquisition process

O shows us that language teaching should deal with 
how vocabulary should be taught, not as tokens 
with isolated meanings but as items that play a part 
in the sentence saying what structures and words 
they may go with in the sentence
2.8. The Monitor Model
O forms the basis of the Natural Approach, 
which is a comprehension-based approach to 
foreign and second language teaching.
2.8. The Monitor Model
O The model consists of five hypotheses:

O (1) The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis


O (2) The Natural Order Hypothesis
O (3) The Input Hypothesis
O(4) The Monitor Hypothesis
O (5) The Affective Filter Hypothesis
O Thank you!