Language Acquisition Theories

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Psych 640

Language Acquisition Theories

Introduction to Language

Cognitive processSpoken or writtenThree general principles:AcquisitionComprehensionProduction

Structures of Language


Phonological Structures of Language

PhoneticsStudy of soundsPhonetics versus PhonologySounds of the alphabet

Morphological Structures of Language

MorphemesLexical (Free)Grammatical (Bound)MorphologyWordsPrefixes and SuffixesDerivational morphemesInflectional morphemes

Syntactic Structures of Language

SyntaxPhrases and sentencesRules, principles, processes

Context Structures of Language

Tone of voiceBody languageWords being usedHow messages are conveyedSemantics and pragmatics

Skinner’s Theory on Language Acquisition

Environmental influencesAssociation between words and meaningPositive reinforcementConditioningImitation

Chomsky’s Theory on Language Acquisition

Criticized Skinner’s theoryUniversal GrammarGrammatical categoriesInnate function

Who is Correct?

Is language acquired?Is language learned?Do you need to develop language during a critical period?


ComplexityInnate abilityLearned systemsAcquisition


Anderson, J. R. (2010). Cognitive psychology and its implications (7th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.Boundless. (2015). The structures of language. Retrieved from boundless-psychology-textbook/language-10/introduction-to- language-60/the-structure-of-language-234-12769/Harley, T. A. (2008). The psychology of language (3rd. ed.) Hove: Psychology Press. Lemetyinen, H. (2012). Language acquisition. Retrieved from http://

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