Behaviorist, Innatist and Developmentalist

There are three popular paradigm in language acquisition of children. In each belief, language characteristics in children identified. The behaviourist perspective puts the central ideas on children`s language reproduction. Children can learn language from their around by imitating and reproduce what they have heard. Positive reinforcement from their surrounding is to be encouraged so that infants will continue to imitate and practice these sound patterns so they will become the child`s language behaviour.

In contrary with the behaviourist perspective, the innatists perspective emphasizes that all human languages are basically innate. As like other human biological functions, children do not need to be taught about language because they have natural language abilities. On the other hand, the interactionist/developmental perspective challenge the innatist standpoint. Developmentalists underline that language children require is attained from the combination between the children`s inborn skills and environmental support where they develop.

The main characteristics of the behaviourist outlook are imitation and practice. Repetition is a door to children to creatively use patterns and simplify what other speakers provided to new contexts. Meanwhile, the innatist perspective sees some innate mechanism will cope to such complex grammar though. This is because in critical period in how babies are developing their language skills, infants are genetically programmed. On the other hand, developmentalist perspective assumes that the external factors such as adults or other conversational pathners become crucial aspects in regard with development of children`s language acquisition. The more frequent two-side communication or physical interaction between language learners and interlocutors nourishes children to mastery of linguistic elements.

If the behaviourist perspective focuses on repetition from what children have learnt, obviously it is not enough to explain children language acquisition from the innatist perspective because children are born with specific innate ability to language system they are exposed to. While the developmentalist perspective argues that direct interaction between children and interlocutor is the main point how children develop their language comprehension. Those theoretical perspectives are the basic principles of the most influential schools in language acquisition of children and how they are unlike to each other.


About Halili

Indonesian student of Master of Language Studies at Flinders University, South Australia.
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