Theoretical Perspective Reflection Assignment

Theoretical Perspective Reflection Assignment

Theoretical Perspective Reflection Assignment

In Chapter 3, you were presented with four language acquisition theories: behaviorist, active construction of a grammar, connectionist, and social interaction theories.  For this discussion, you will first select one of the theories and explain its main components in a graphic organizer.  The recommended website, Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers, offers digital graphic organizers to help you with the creation of your graphic organizer, or you can use the graphs/charts feature in Microsoft Word.  You will then compare and contrast your chosen theory with the other theories listed above, highlighting the major similarities and differences.

The graphic organizer you create for the theory you choose should include:


  • The main theorist associated with the theory
  • A summary of what the theory states
  • Evidence supporting the theory
  • Evidence against the theory


In your compare/contrast analysis of the theory, include the following:


  • Similarities to other theories
  • Differences from other theories


Refer to Chapter 3 of the text, additional resources, and your own insights.  Remember that your graphic organizer needs to contain an APA citation for any source used, including the textbook.  Your discussion post title should be the same as your chosen theory.  The body of your post should consist of your compare/contrast analysis.


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3.3 Theoretical Perspectives Theorists at one extreme of the issue contend that language is a learned behavior and that language learning is no different from any other kind of human learning. Theo- rists at the other extreme take the position that not much learning is required, that language is wholly instinctive. Neither extreme is reasonable, but in between the two are a number of competing theories about how it is that a preschool child has a tacit under- standing of how the grammar of his language works that would take a linguist hundreds of pages to describe.

We cannot describe all the theories that have evolved or the cases that have been made for them, but we will examine four broad categories of theory related to language that have had a major influence. They are behaviorist, active construction of a grammar, neural con- nectionism, and social interaction.

Behaviorist Theories As appealing as behaviorism was in the early part of the 20th century, it has little credence as a theory of language acquisition. Basically, behaviorist theories take the position that children learn through imitation. They listen to the speech around them, imitate what they hear, and then through a system of reinforcement (i.e., being praised or rewarded for correct utterances and having errors ignored or corrected), they learn to discard their imperfect imitations. The problems with applying this theory to real children learning language are obvi- ous. First, children produce utterances they have never heard and, second, adults rarely respond to the form of the utterance. No theory of imitation can account for this and simi- lar utterances. See Chomsky’s Case Against Behaviorism for more on this topic.