‘Although adults often imagine they are teaching their children how to speak, there is no convincing evidence children need such instruction’
From an early age, humans acquire one of the most complicated and diverse abilities that is unique to humans: the ability to learn language. In the first five years, children go through various stages of developing language. As they go through these stages, it seems they acquire language through a variety of factors that involve input as well as interaction from adults. However, this has been a subject of debate by experts in a variety of fields. Such debate has developed a number of theories that have similar but also very differing characteristics as to how children acquire language. Investigating the stages in which children acquire language, and the theories that try to explain how this develops, will give an overview as to whether there is validity to the statement presented above.
The first theory to be put forward was the behaviourist theory. This was pioneered by Skinner, and introduces the idea that children acquire language through imitating adults and receiving positive or negative reinforcement depending on the action of the child. Children often repeat words that adults say to them, this can be used in a phrase or simply the word repeated but with the intonation of their speech changing to determine the words grammatical function (Lightbown and Spada 2013). Children do this at the holophrastic stage of language development (Russell 1993). However, this theory has several problems because not all children imitate the same amount as other children and yet they maintain the same amount of language (Lightbowen and Spada 2013). Another problem is when children make mistakes, and are corrected by adults, they do not always accept the correction immediately; if language is acquired by imitation alone then the child, once corrected, should not make the same mistake.
The issues that the behaviourist theory has in...