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Theoretical Perspectives by Mind Map: Theoretical
Perspectives
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Theoretical Perspectives

behaviorist, nativist, cognitive developmentalist, and interactionist

NATIVIST

focus: Nature

Focus on Aspect of Language Knowlegde: Syntactic (Otto 28)

Major Theorist(s): Chomsky (Otto 28)

The nativist perspective emphasizes inborn or innate human capabilities (i.e., “nature”) as being responsible for language development. Linguist Noam Chomsky is the major theorist associated with the nativist perspective. Chomsky's contributions to our understanding of the acquisition and structure of language have been significant (1965, 1975, 2002; Pinker, 1994). Chomsky contends that all people inherently have the capacity to acquire language due to cognitive structures that process language differently from other stimuli. (Otto 27-28)

BEHAVIORIST

focus: Nurture

Focus on Aspect of Language Knowledge: Semantic Syntactic Morphemic(Otto 28)

Major Theorist(s): Skinner (Otto 28)

The behaviorist perspective emphasizes the role of “nurture” and considers learning to occur based on the stimuli, responses, and reinforcements that occur in the environment. A child is considered to be a “blank slate” (Otto 31)

learning occurs due to associations established between stimuli, responses, and events that occur after the response behavior. Language is learned as a result of these associations. Reinforcement of a child's verbal and nonverbal responses to language directed at him is responsible for the language learning that occurs. Thus, language is “taught” through situations in which children are encouraged to imitate others' speech and to develop associations between verbal stimuli (i.e., words) and objects (Otto 31)

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTALIST

focus: Nature

Focus on Aspect of Language Knowledge: Semantic Morphemic (Otto 28)

Major Theorist(s): Piaget (Otto 28)

The cognitive developmental perspective is based in the work of Jean Piaget (1955). The emphasis of this perspective is that language is acquired as maturation occurs and cognitive competencies develop. Whereas the nativist perspective emphasizes the inborn language mechanism, the cognitive developmental perspective assumes that cognitive development is a “prerequisite and foundation for language learning” (Karmiloff & Karmiloff-Smith, 2001, p. 5). This perspective also proposes that a child learns language by using the same mechanisms as for other learning. Thus, there is no unique language mechanism. The close relation between cognitive development and language is based on the belief that, for language to develop, specific cognitive growth must occur first. (Otto 30)

The cognitive developmental perspective encourages teachers to pay close attention to a child's stage of cognitive development and use that knowledge to appropriately plan learning activities. For example, teachers would develop a curriculum that recognizes the importance of the development of specific cognitive mechanisms as precursors to the onset of language, such as object permanence and symbolic representation (Otto 31)

INTERACTIONIST

focus: Nurture

Focus on Aspect of Language Knowledge: Pragmatic (Otto 28)

Major Theorist(s): Vygotsky Bruner Halliday (Otto 28)

The interactionist perspective focuses on the primary role of sociocultural interaction in children's development of language knowledge (Otto 33)

This perspective contends that children acquire language through their attempts to communicate with the world around them. This perspective contributes to our understanding of the ways in which children acquire pragmatic language knowledge. Language is acquired by individuals out of a need to function in society and an accompanying need for knowledge of how language functions in that society (Otto 33)

The interactionist perspective contends that children acquire language through their attempts to communicate with the world around them. The primary role of social interaction in language development is based on the observation that children acquire an awareness of specific communicative functions or intentions (such as indicating, requesting, and labeling) before they are able to express themselves linguistically (Otto 34-35)