Behaviorist vs. Nativist
Because the acquisition of language is extremely complex, many theorists have studied and researched it meticulously. Through countless hours of observation and tests, there have been five theories created. Amongst those five are two that are very compound; the behaviorist theory and the nativist theory.
There were two theorists, Skinner and Watson, who studied the development of language in young children, which became known as the behaviorist theory. Thus, they and others who believe solely in this theory are known as behaviorists. Behaviorists believe that organisms come into the world as “blank slates.” That means that when babies of all species are born into the world they do not have any knowledge whatsoever; they do not know anything and they can’t do anything. Also, behaviorists believe that their theory’s basic principles apply to all species.
One very important principle of the behaviorist theory is that the role of the environment is of utmost importance in proving their theory. They believe that the process of learning has only occurred if there has been a change in behavior. Also, behaviorists basically study the relationship between stimuli and responses, and actual mental processes are not studied. They believe that the actual study of learning must focus on events that can be observed and measured.
The behaviorist theory strongly applies to the acquisition of language. Behaviorists assume that language is a set of verbal behaviors learned through operant conditioning. Therefore, they believe that learning can occur from punishment and reinforcement. For example, when a young baby is learning to talk, he or she may accidentally stumble across the sound of “dada.” Of course, parents tend to act very jovial when this occurs and praises the baby. As a result, this positive reinforcement makes the baby react by repeating “dada” over and over again. As a consequence...