Interactionist Theory of Language Acquisition
What is the Interactionist theory of language acquisition?
The interactionist theory of language acquisition is a school of thought that suggests that children learn their first words from other people’s interactions with them. They are not innate and instead developed through communication, which they can only do as infants because they cannot speak.
The interactionist theory of language acquisition is a view that maintains that language learning takes place only through direct contact with a native speaker or caretaker who provides correct input and feedback as well as opportunities for practice and feedback.
Language learners are not expected to be able to learn from linguistic data stored in their minds but rather interact with a speaker whose role is not just one of providing information about the target language but also acting as an instructor.
The Interactionist theory of language acquisition argues that children do not learn their first language strictly through explicit instruction, but rather they acquire it through the trial-and-error process in natural family settings.
History of Interactionist Theory of Language Acquisition
The Interactionist theory of language acquisition was first proposed by Jean Piaget, who had observed his own children learning to talk with varying degrees of success.
The Interactionist theory was later widened by BF Skinner (1904-1990), who also created the Behaviorism approach to psychology.
The field has continued over time, with many psychologists entering the debate about whether infants can acquire skills from observation alone without any kind of physical practice involved.
Examples of Interactionist Theory of Language Acquisition
The Interactionist theory of language acquisition is a perspective on how people learn to speak by observing and watching others. There are some examples of the Interactionist theory in real life as well.
For instance, an infant may not be able to speak words yet, but can hear them often enough, so they will imitate what is being said when they finally do start talking themselves!
This theory argues that babies learn to speak through the process of imitation, or “paying attention,” as they call it in the literature. One example of this would be a baby copying their father’s speaking style when he says “Oh no!” after spilling milk on himself.
Check related: Nativist Theory of Language Acquisition.
Criticisms and weaknesses of Interactionist theory of language acquisition.
- The interactionist theory of language acquisition is a social-psychological approach to studying how children acquire language and culture. Interactionists argue that children learn by observing and participating in their parents’ interactions with others, such as through conversation or watching TV. Critics claim that the interactionist theory does not account for individual differences in learning.
- The Interactionist theory of language acquisition is not universally accepted.
- The interactionist theory of language acquisition does not account for children being exposed to many languages before speaking.
- There has been little research on how adults acquire a second language without formal instruction.
- The interactionist theory of language acquisition cannot explain why some people have an easier time learning a second language than others.
Check Related: Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition