Monday, June 11, 2007

Models of Language Development

I. Behavioral Theory (Learning theory)
o B.F. Skinner most noted researcher of this theory.
o States that language is a learned behavior
o Based on modeling, imitation, practice and reinforcement
o States that the child's interaction with the environment is crucial;
o Children learn through their interactions with the environment

Example: The child begins to babble (universal sounds) through conditioning, sounds of babbling become modified. Sounds of English are reinforced. Non-English sounds become extinct. The child puts sounds together. Mom shapes the words. (e.g child says "dus", mom says "oh you want juice")

II. Contributions of Behavioral Theory
o Environmental Input is now recognized as critical to language development.
o Behaviors identified by Skinner and other operant psychologists have proven to be very useful in language training and provide a basis for most remedial programs.
o Modeling and shaping techniques are used frequently in therapy.

III. Limitations of Behavioral Theory
o Adult speech provides a very poor model (adult to adult speech characterized by false starts, dysfluencies and revisions).
o Child could not possibly learn through imitation all of the utterances that they are capable of producing.