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Is Language Development an Innately or Environmentally Guided Process - Essay Example

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Nature vs. Nurture: Is Language Development an Innately or Environmentally Guided Process? 1.0 Introduction An issue, which is widely debated concerns about the question of whether individuals’ language capacities are innate or not. Is language development in children a result of inherent biological endowment or is it a result of conditions in which children are raised and nurtured?…
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Is Language Development an Innately or Environmentally Guided Process
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"Is Language Development an Innately or Environmentally Guided Process"

Download file to see previous pages This paper espouses the nativist’s view that children possess an innate linguistic knowledge that facilitates language acquisition and development. This paper discusses language development according to the nativist perspective. In addition, it presents evidences that support the proposition that language development is an innately guided process. Lastly, the paper presents alternative perspectives in explaining language development. 2.0 How Language Develops According to Glidden (2006, p.2) the brain is designed to have the ability to acquire language. Chomsky (cited in Curtis & O’Hagan, 2003, p.54) reiterated that every child is born with Language Acquisition Device (LAD), which allows him/her to structure his/her language. He demonstrated that children can generate sentences, which they have not heard before (cited in Curtis & O’Hagan, 2003, p.54). Each child possesses the capacity to learn a particular language. This capacity consists of implicit or tacit knowledge of the characteristics common to every language and the constraints on manners wherein languages can differ. The children’s capacity to learn language functions in a modular manner (Glidden, 2006, p.2). It involves mechanisms especially tuned in processing various linguistic representations, which consequently entail minimal input from mental functions or general cognitive processes. The child only needs to learn limited number of primary examples of the input language to grasp the language-specific rules and categories (Glidden, 2006, p.2). These examples reflect the basic facts about a particular language; thus, it is present in virtually all environments. Variations in the children’s environments may not have a significant impact on language development (Glidden, 2006, p.2). Bjorklund and Blasi (2011) asserted that the processes and structures of processing language are biologically inherent. Children utilised these mechanisms in learning their mother tongue when they are exposed to the typical language context. This nativist’s view refutes the premise that language is a result of classical and operant conditioning. Eric Lenneber (1967 cited in Bjorklund & Blasi, 2011) espouses the position that language is based on biology. He proposed six characteristics that make language dissimilar from any other learned abilities. He contends that (1) it is case-specific, (2) uniform among species, (3) hard to prevent, (4) acquired and learned in regular sequence, (5) it has specific anatomical structures related to its use, and lastly (6) it is highly affected by language disabilities (cited in Bjorklund & Blasi, 2011). Similarly, Chomsky (1993 cited in Hoff, 2009, p.18) stressed that language development has three salient facts namely: (1) children learned language rapidly, (2) it is acquired effortlessly, and lastly (3) children learned language even without direct instructions. Chomsky (1993 cited in Hoff, 2009, p.18) asserts that learning a language is not something that the child consciously does. It is something that occurs when a child is placed in a suitable environment, in a similar fashion that the child’s body matures and grows in a predetermined manner with the appropriate environmental stimulation and nutrition (cited in Hoff, 200 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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