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Nature Versus Nurture

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By harriet94
Words 1604
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“[Children’s] Brains are already fine tuned to attend to sounds around them and process them as part of their developing understanding of the worlds in which they find themselves. Cooing usually starts at around the three month stage (Karmiloff Smith 1994) and the response of the adult…can act as a ‘reward’ encouraging thesis early attempts at sound making and interaction” (David Goouch, Powell & Abbott,2003:821)

This essay will discuss the acquisition of language in the first two years of a child’s life, looking at different theories and approaches that have been explored over recent years. The essay aims to distinguish if language acquisition is an in built skill which we are all born with or if it is a learned skill which we acquire as we interact with the world around us.

Skinner (1957) put forward the argument in favour of the debate that language is developed through nurture- saying that language is a learnt behaviour. Skinner provided that children simply repeat utterances they have heard, this implies that language acquisition is a simple case of rote learning(Ambridge & Lieven,2011:242). He believed that much of what we learn is from the environment around us, he used his theory of operant conditioning to explain how and why we have developed the ability to communicate through spoken words. Operant conditioning, to put it very simply suggests that if a behaviour is rewarded the subject will continue to behave that way. In the case of language acquisition , a child will say a word correctly and be rewarded. For example if a child is able to say the word “banana” they will be given the banana or praised for matching the work to the object i.e. by pointing.Thus, they will continue to use and develop their vocabulary as they are motivated by the praise or reward the receive.

Following on from Skinner’s theories, further research was carried...

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