B. F. Skinner

Language Acquisition

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(6348 Words)

Language is a unique medium by which speakers, once it has been acquired, can communicate their thoughts and feelings to others. This powerful tool with which people can conduct their business or the government of millions of people, the vehicle by which science and philosophy have been transmitted, is truly remarkable. This sui generic verbal expression used by humankind is surely worth studying, I will try in this essay to put forward ideas about the study and mastery of the English language focusing on first language acquisition. The English language has in its time gone through many diversities of cultures. The expression is a reminder that the history of the English language is a story of cultures in contact during the past 1500 years of communication between people. This amalgamation of the English language must be considered through the mixed character of its vocabulary. This lexis is prominent among the assets of the English language. Most notably this modeling makes for a language that has been acquired through various means, including borrowing from other languages, the words that it needs. The English language is forever changing as the years go by. The English language we arrive at today is distinctly different from the days of Geoffrey Chaucer’s English and Latin is all but forgotten.

To begin with, scholars in the field of language acquisition, work on many theories in their theoretical basis, as being a child’s language acquisition process. Two notable theories are that language is just like any other behavior, the child acquires. The behavior, which is mostly under the control of, forces acting on external stimulations. The child’s personal character is molded with the language. Also, other scholars assume that language is innate and that no real learning situation is there. We can certainly take for granted that a child’s language acquisition appears to develop in mostly all children under normal circumstances, either as a unilingual or multilingual skill, crucially between the ages of one and five and a necessary interplay of innate and environmental factors. Their new language is acquired through no actual official training; any child can learn any language, under suitable conditions that allow the child to develop embracing voice and kinesthetic stimulation. The child will also follow facial movements. Certain innateness can be seen in a newborn baby’s character, for example, a baby will happily suckle the mum’s breast for milk on the first day, which shows that a child has a natural tendency to do specific behavioral tasks. The connection between the significant physiological and cognitive stages in the maturational history of a child leads several scholars to argue that there might be the biological ability in man that makes the human form of communication uniquely possible for our species and in this sense language is innate. From the moment they enter the world to eight weeks, babies start the process of language acquisition. They begin to cry and make little sounds; this exercises the vocal organs and gives them practice in controlling the flow of air through their mouth and nose. These movements are the preliminary steps towards speech. Right-minded parents will help their child with their initial language even though the child will spontaneously acquire language himself while progressively developing his motor coordination.

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A look at teaching methodology over the last 30 years

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(8160 Words)

Second language teaching can be employed in many ways and is born from many theories hypothesizing how we acquire language through the process of first or second language acquisition. Central to these theories of language acquisition was the emergence of the concept of “methods” of language teaching. It is this language teaching coupled with its methodology I will discuss in this paper notwithstanding that teaching methods can not be applied if we do not understand how students gather all the information for their language acquisition. Methodology can be fundamentally sound but if we (the teachers) do not understand the minds of our students that much clearer, all the hard teaching work will be fruitless. Methodology in teaching in all it forms originates from questions the teacher asks himself about the students and learning environment such as: Who are the learners? What exactly do they do? For what purpose are the students learning the language? In what setting are the students learning?,  With what kinds of language?, In what patterns of social interaction? , and also what are the particular outcomes in terms of quantity/quality of language use, attitudes, and motivation? This is not forgetting the teacher who must consider the design features of his lesson that might include such points as: stated objectives, syllabus specifications, and type of activities, roles of teachers, learners, and materials. These are the sort of questions and ideas that are congruent with referring to a methodology for teaching and will help with answering the question for this paper; what is teaching methodology? I will also generally try to focus on teaching methodology over the last thirty years.

To begin with, teaching methodology in all its forms helps the students in their acquisition of language. Our knowledge of the student and his learning is fundamental with respect to a proficient teaching method. We only need to look at one of the most influential researchers in the language field of developmental psychology. [1]Jean Piaget (1896-1980) explains this point a bit more. He helped posit many theories (which are discussed later in this paper). Piaget became interested in how children think. He recognised that the children’s answers were qualitatively different from the older children’s. This, of course, he recognised, did not mean the younger ones were less smart. The children answered the questions differently because they thought differently. Influential research like Piaget’s is the kind of recognition of students’ learning and capabilities that a teaching methodology has to adapt to. It is a focus like this, that I hope to put across in this paper. Teaching methodology works in many ways and has to deal with a myriad of learning styles and ages.

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