Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition
The behaviorist approach was based on the idea that language is learned through observation and imitation. The theory states that we do not learn words and grammar because they are connected to meanings; instead, we have mental concepts of each word or concept.
The theory of behaviorist language acquisition argues that children acquire language only due to their own active experiences and not by imitation or instruction. This theory is based on the idea that humans are unique in how they think and learn about new information.
In order to teach children how to speak, adults need to observe what children already know about what they have experienced.
Language acquisition begins when a child hears his caretaker say something and then imitates it several times until he finds out what particular thing in the environment makes his caregiver communicate in such away.
The behavioralist theory became popular and used in the 1950s and 1960s. After experiments by BF Skinner in 1957 and Uriel Weinreich in 1953 showed operant conditioning as a way for people to learn the language. Behaviorists argue that language learning is essentially a stimulus-response conditioning system, a mechanistic mechanism that allows the student to provide the correct response to the stimulus with immediate input to the student.
Examples of Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition in life.
In everyday life, the Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition can be seen all around us. An example is how a person points to an apple and says “apple.” This shapes their worldview, and they are more likely to find apples in the grocery store instead of oranges.
Another example is how a child is frightened by fireworks on TV and may fear thunderstorms as well due to these associations.
Behaviorist theory of language learning
Our environment influences the way we use language. We learn new words and phrases from others in our environment, such as parents or siblings. We also learn new words and phrases through reading, watching television, or listening to the radio.
Learning a new language is difficult but not impossible. Taking time to learn the basics of a language will make it easier to understand and speak. There are many ways to learn a new language, including listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
Check related: Nativist Theory of Language Acquisition.
Criticisms and weaknesses of Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition.
- Behaviorists believe that language is learned through conditioning and reinforcement. This means that children learn language by being rewarded for certain behaviors, like speaking a word when they hear it. Critics of this theory argue that the process is too slow to account for all of the words in a child’s vocabulary.
- Another criticism is that behaviorist theory does not explain how children can acquire grammar without any explicit instruction from adults.
- The behaviorist theory of language acquisition is a deterministic approach to learning. There are no explicit rules for the learner to follow in order to acquire language. The emphasis on stimulus-response connections can lead to an overreliance on rote memorization and imitation.
- The behaviorist theory of language acquisition does not account for individual differences, such as intelligence or motivation.
- The assumption based on behavioristic theories has been that language is conditioned verbal behavior. However, many writers in language, psychology, and linguistics are now saying that language is much more complex than had been previously supposed.
- The final criticism of behaviorism says there are many aspects of language acquisition that cannot be explained by simple conditioning