Nativist Theory of Language Acquisition Example
Nativist theory of Language Acquisition
What is the Nativist Theory of Language Acquisition?
A nativist is someone who believes in the inheritance of acquired traits or that its genetic makeup determines an organism’s characteristics.
The nativist theory of language acquisition argues that children learn their first language because they are biologically programmed to do so. This programming enables them to acquire any human language. The idea behind the theory is that humans have evolved a special cognitive module for learning languages, which can be activated at birth.
This theory was first proposed by Noam Chomsky in the 1960s and has been widely accepted since then. The nativist perspective holds that there are certain universal features of human languages, such as recursion, which all humans have access to from birth.
Language Acquisition Theories
Acquiring a new language is a process where we learn our native language or move to a new land and learn a second or even a third language. Language learning is a process, and over time this process has acquired its own set of theories. Four theories explain language acquisition. They are
- Nativist Theory
- Behaviorist Theory
- Cognitivist Theory
- Social Interactionist Theory
These theories provide ideas and perspectives that can enrich the learning experience for children/students who may be struggling with a second language.
Nativist Theory of Language Acquisition Example
Nativist theory of language acquisition is a hypothesis in linguistics that the capacity for language is innate. The nativist theory was first proposed by Noam Chomsky, who argued that children are born with an innate ability to learn languages, and this ability cannot be explained by other theories such as behaviorist or empiricist.
Nativist theory of language acquisition is a theory that suggests children are born with an innate ability to learn languages.
An example of Nativist theory is when a child is born, the child’s environment includes people who speak a language that the child does not know. The child learns to speak by imitating others and using what they hear as a guide for how to say words in their own language.
A child learns to speak their native language by listening and imitating the sounds they hear. This is because children are born with an innate ability to learn a language, and Language acquisition is based on a person’s first-hand experience of the world. The process of learning one’s native language is not dependent on formal instruction
Nativist Theory in the Classroom
The nativist theory of language acquisition is a hotly debated topic in the field of linguistics. While some argue that children acquire language without any knowledge, others believe that they learn it from their parents and caregivers.
In some ways, this is common sense; children across all cultures pick up their mother language. This innate capacity for language, called the Language Acquisition Device by Chomsky, “prepares the child to make sense of language and to discover its structure.
According to nativist theory in education, teachers need to do little but rely on the child’s natural language skills in the day-to-day classroom. The strictest nativist approach will dispel all skill-building exercises, but this view is too painful and slow.
Educators should embrace facets of the nativist approach and engage in authentic programs but should strengthen this with guidance in the areas required.
While it is true that children instinctively pick up the language, mastery takes several years, complementing the nativist approach with more conventional practices will speed up the student’s absorption of the language.
In high school settings, nativism inevitably applies to bilingual teaching. In bilingual education, children receive instruction in native languages for several years before eventually moving to mainstream classes.
This is logical for high school, as students pursue specialized content disciplines. Educators, when developing schedules, rely on children’s inner-language learning.
Behaviorist and Nativist Theories of Language Acquisition
Nativist theory is a theory of language acquisition that states that language learning occurs in the absence of explicit instruction. Nativist theories are often contrasted with a behaviorist and cognitivist schools of thought.
There are many instances when nativists disagree about how to interpret their findings. Still, one point they do agree upon is that some aspects of language acquisition come from innate human abilities. The study and debate over which aspects fall into this category continue today.
Check Related: Behaviorist Theory of Language Acquisition
Criticism of Nativist theory
- Many scholars have criticized this argument and argue that there is no evidence to support the claim of innateness.
- The Nativist theory of language acquisition is a controversial theory. It has been criticized for being ethnocentric and as having an overly-simplistic view of the human mind.
- It also fails to account for how children acquire their first language in cases where they are not exposed to it at birth.